Legislative Updates

Primary Runoff Elections Early Voting Starts Today!

Today, May 16, marks day one of early voting for the Texas Primary Runoff Elections! Many elections in Texas, particularly for seats in the Texas Senate and House, are decided during the Primary Election and not during the November General Election.

ATTENTION TRTA MEMBERS IN DISTRICTS WITH A RUNOFF: The power is in your hands! Many of these seats can be decided by the educator population in these districts. The recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court was a blow to public education and it demonstrates the absolute need to elect legislators who care about educators, public education and retired school employees! Contact your friends, fellow retirees and local ISD leaders, and ask whom they may be voting for and why. Make your commitment to voting by electing people who care about the issues we believe in.

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TRS Board of Trustees Meets, Pressure on TRS-Care Fund Escalates

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met today, May 13, in Austin to discuss various topics, including potential premium and plan design alternatives for TRS-Care. The retiree health benefits program includes the three standard plans (Tiers 1, 2 and 3), as well as the fully-insured Medicare Advantage Plans and the Medicare Part D Plans.

TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie updated the trustees on the progress of the TRS-Care interim legislative committee and the status of the TRS-Care fund balance. Guthrie stated that “we are cutting it very close on the ending fund balance for TRS-Care for fiscal year 2017.” 

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Primary Runoff Elections Coming Soon!

Thousands of voters turned out for the Texas Primary Election on Super Tuesday. According to the Texas Tribune, “more than 4.2 million Texans turned out to vote in the Republican and Democratic primary presidential elections, about 30 percent of registered voters.” We know that many of our members and their fellow retirees were a part of this dedicated group of people!

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House Speaker Straus Emphasizes Importance of Retiree Health Care for State Budget

Earlier this week, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus released a letter to the members of the House Appropriations Committee regarding his concerns for the state budget and the many factors that must be considered during the 85th Legislative Session that begins in January 2017.

Of those concerns are the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. Straus stated that “even with the critical infusion of funding to TRS-Care last session, a sustainable, long-term solution is still needed.”

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TRTA Hosts Successful 63rd Annual Convention

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) hosted its 63rd annual convention this week in Houston at the Westin Galleria. More than 1,000 members convened to enjoy fellowship, receive vital training from state counterparts and conduct the business of the association.

One of many highlights of the three-day event, Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) stopped by during the convention Opening Ceremonies to discuss his bill, H.R. 711, with attendees. Brady was greeted with the voices of 1,000 public education retirees singing happy birthday to him before he spoke about his years-long journey trying to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). In a recent news article, Brady states that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the bill will pass this year. To learn more about the WEP and HR 711, visit this page.

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TRTA 63rd Annual Convention Starts This Weekend!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is finalizing plans for the 63rd Annual TRTA Convention to be held in Houston April 10-12, 2016. More than 1,000 retirees are registered for the event already, which is taking place at the Westin Galleria on 5060 West Alabama.

This year’s theme, “Hearts of Texas: TRTA Proud,” focuses on the strength and dedication of TRTA’s 257 local units and their homegrown, grassroots advocacy. Late registration for the Convention is open online, and will be available onsite beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 10. To view the full convention schedule, please click here.

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TRS-Care Joint Committee Meets as TRTA Hosts Rally at Capitol

“I’m just chock-full of good news today,” joked Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie after eliciting several prolonged sighs from members of the TRS-Care Joint Committee.

The TRS-Care Joint Committee is a sub-committee of the Texas Legislature charged with studying the TRS-Care health insurance program. The committee is comprised of three Senators and four Representatives, who heard testimony for three hours concerning TRS-Care’s financial instability.

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Houston WEP Rally and TRS-Care Hearing This Week

TRTA is preparing for an important meeting this week about the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. As you may have read in the Inside Line, the hearing will be held this Wednesday, March 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Texas Capitol in room E1.028.

March 30 will be the first of several meetings of the TRS-Care study group. We are encouraging TRTA members to attend this meeting, as well as all others. 

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New TRTATV Episode: ‪HR 711 Update and TRS-Care Meeting Upcoming

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) lobbying efforts are being felt at both a state and national level. On Tuesday, Tim Lee, TRTA’s Executive Director, and Ronnie Jung, TRTA’s Pensions Consultant, attended the U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee hearing on The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711).

HR 711 proposes to repeal the current Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a newer, fairer formula. Lee testified about the importance of changing the Windfall Elimination Provision, which deprives millions of retired educators, firefighters, police officers and other public workers of their Social Security earnings.

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Ways and Means Committee Members Discuss Future of WEP

The U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee discussed propositions to alter a Social Security provision known as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) today. The WEP is an unfair formula that was enacted 1983. It prevents public workers such as educators, firefighters and police officers who pay into state pension plans from receiving their entire sum of Social Security earnings.

For many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), the WEP has long stood as a barrier to receiving the retirement benefits that they earned through working in other professions that paid into Social Security.

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