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04 Nov
0

Congressman Brady Talks HR 711, WEP with Retirees

On Thursday, November 3, members, officers and personnel of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), including Executive Director Tim Lee, joined Congressman Kevin Brady for a conference call regarding his bill, H.R. 711, the Equal Protection for Public Servants Act.

Congressman Brady discussed his efforts to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and provided an update about the current status of this important piece of legislation. Brady’s bill, which he co-authored with Congressman Richard Neal of Massachusetts, would replace the current WEP formula with a new, fairer one.

Though the bill was scheduled to be heard by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in July, a committee chaired by Congressman Brady, the bill instead was postponed until agreement from affected public servant advocacy groups could be found.

During the call, Brady reminded listeners that this is the farthest a bill pertaining to WEP repeal has gone in the legislative process since this unfair provision was passed thirty years ago.

Brady also emphasized that agreement among the coalition members—advocacy groups representing firefighters, police, teachers, public workers and retirees across the nation—is the final hurdle that must be crossed before the bill can once again move forward.

“It is critical to have a strong, unified coalition or there will be no chance to move this bill,” Congressman Brady said.

Texas is the state most dramatically affected by the WEP, according to Congressman Brady. “I have worked on for more than a decade,” he stated. “I am committed to it.”

Brady also said that he doesn’t want to wait until all of Social Security is overhauled to make changes that will benefit both current and future retirees.

While the process has not been easy for retirees or for Congressman Brady and his staff, he says he has not and will not give up hope. “We are so close to getting (HR 711) put together,” he said.

At this point, it is possible that movement on the bill may not resume until 2017 when a new Congress is seated. However, Brady stressed the need for retired and active police officers, firefighters and teachers to share their examples of how they are hurt by the WEP.

Please, if you have not done so already, share your story about the WEP has harmed you and ask your friends, family members and colleagues in other states who are impacted to share their stories as well. Your stories really help!

Send your story to WEP.feedback@mail.house.gov today!

Your stories help to convince lawmakers in other states not impacted by the WEP why it’s such a bad provision and why it needs to be fixed in a bipartisan way.

Members, please be sure to share this Inside Line with any active educators you know! Their retirement security will be impacted by the WEP as well! We need their support to help the bill move forward and to find a common sense solution to the problem.

Brady’s office continues to work daily to get data from the Social Security Administration as to what retirees are affected and how they would be affected by the passage of HR 711.

Let’s work just as hard and help Congressman Brady by spreading the news about the negative impacts of the WEP and by sharing our stories!

Thank You

We would like to thank our members, our national coalition partners and all those who have made phone calls and sent letters on this issue. We will ask for your help again in the very near future, and we appreciate your patience and continued support.

TRTA especially thanks Chairman Brady for his tireless work on the bill, as well as Congressman Neal for his steadfast support and passionate plea for all groups to come together in agreement.

TRTA will continue to provide national leadership and help others come to the table on this critical issue. Please be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube for all the latest legislative news.

If you are not already a member of TRTA, please join today. Only by working together will we be able to resolve the WEP. If you are already a member, please encourage your fellow retirees to join and renew.

TRTA is ready to get to work on finding agreement with advocacy groups across the country, and will do so tirelessly until our members and public service retirees across the nation receive financial relief!

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01 Nov
0

Texas Educators Come Together to Get Out the Vote

Early voting continues in Texas this week through Friday, November 4. We know many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have made it to the polls already, and many more will cast their votes soon.

Election day is next Tuesday, November 8, but we recommend that all members avoid those longer lines and vote early!

TRTA is proud to partner with Texas Educators Vote, and we encourage all retired and active educators to take the oath to vote! We also encourage our retired members to volunteer at polling locations, or even at their local schools.

Together, we can help create a civic-minded environment on every school campus with a focus on getting all educators to vote!

Many TRTA members are volunteering on school campuses this week and next so that our friends in the active educator community can take time out of their busy schedules to get to the polls. Our retirees also serve as great advocates for first-time student voters, explaining the voting process to them and letting them know that every vote matters.

Austin’s NPR station, KUT, published a great article today about how educators, both retired and active, across the state are coming together to get out the vote! Texas Educators Vote is a coalition of education groups working together to build strength in numbers.

“The idea,” according to Texas Educators Vote Executive Director Laura Yeager, “is to educate teachers and hope that education trickles down to students and other school employees.”

Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

If you are a retiree who wants to help out on a school campus this week, please contact TRTA Administrative Coordinator Brock Gregg or visit the Texas Educators Vote website to learn more. You can also follow Texas Educators Vote on Twitter or Facebook.

Locating Early Voting Sites

You will be able to find early voting locations by using the search site Am I Registered?, which will be populated with voting sites a few days before early voting begins. Or, you may want to contact the Early Voting Clerk for State and County Elections in your county. Also, many newspapers publish early voting and Election Day polling locations, so you may be able to find the information there.

Local unit leaders, activate your phone trees and remind your members about early voting schedules. Check with members who you think may need a ride to the polling location and offer to start a carpool on an early voting day!

Who to Vote For

Elections determine policy outcomes. They are the biggest factor in determining what happens during the Texas Legislative Session. We must elect officials who see the value in not only the TRS defined benefit plan, but our other valuable retirement benefits as well!

The Senators and Representatives who are elected during this cycle will have the enormous responsibility of deciding the future of TRS-Care. If nothing is done during the next Legislative Session to protect TRS-Care, participants in the program could see massive premium increases or changes in benefits, or both!

Many statewide races may have been decided during the March primaries, but there are still several competitive races on the ballot. Click on the links below to review Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives races.

Click here to find Texas State Senate races.

Click here to find Texas State House of Representatives races.

Take some time now to visit your legislators in their district offices and contact any candidates to share this TRTA Fact Sheet with them. Ask them for their support of initiatives that provide our education retirees and pre-retirees with financial security and affordable, quality health care!

Still not sure who to vote for? Below are some resources TRTA recommends to help you conduct research on candidates. We also encourage you to visit a TRTA local unitand ask your fellow retirees who they are voting for and why!

Teach the Vote
Texas Educators Vote
Texas Teachers Vote
Texas Parent PAC
Texas League of Women Voters
Texas Tribune

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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28 Oct
0

TRS Answers Questions About TRS-Care Changes, Humana Plans Medicare Advantage Seminars

As the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) reported over the summer, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is facing changes including increased deductibles and higher co-pay costs. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met in May and June to arrange and approve these changes in order to prevent a multi-million dollar shortfall before the Texas Legislature convenes in January 2017.

We have received numerous emails and phone calls from concerned TRTA members, and TRS has worked diligently to reply to your questions as comprehensively as possible using these new Frequently Asked Questions pages on their website.

Although most changes approved by TRS will go into effect on September 1 of this year, the change to Humana for the Medicare Advantage plan will occur in January 1, 2017. Humana has reached out to TRTA and will be hosting information booths at most TRTA District Fall Conventions. If you are attending a convention this fall, be sure to stop by the table to collect more information.

Humana to Host Statewide Seminars, RSVP Required

Humana will be hosting multiple statewide seminars both in person and online. Click here to view the list of in-person and online events.

Please note that seating is limited at in-person events, and a reservation is required to attend. Please call Humana at 1-800-850-1992 (TTY: 711) to reserve your spot. Humana’s hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Central Time. These events begin on September 26 and continue through November 9.

To register for an online presentation, go to www.Humana.com/trs and you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to sign in and view the live online presentation and Q&A session.

TRTA Fall Local Unit Meetings Update

Earlier this week, TRTA released a list of upcoming local unit meetings occurring all across the state. Please note that several additions have been made to this list. If you do not see a local unit meeting on this list that should be there, please report it here.

Below we have also included all scheduled meetings through November where TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee will be speaking. This is a great opportunity to receive an in-depth look at the TRS-Care crisis, inside information about our fight to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and TRTA’s plans for the 85th Texas Legislative Session.

September:

October:

November:

Thank You

Thank you for your support of TRTA. We are committed to getting you all the information you need to know about changes to TRS-Care, and we are prepared to fight for your benefits in the Texas Capitol!

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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