On March 24, 2021, the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) met to discuss several bills, including HB 1585 by Representative Stan Lambert (R, Abilene). The bill reflects changes recommended by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report.
The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) worked closely with members of the commission throughout the sunset process, and all of TRTA’s recommendations to the commission were included in the final report. The recommendations were developed by TRTA’s Legislative Committee and detailed in TRTA’s public testimony.
TRTA has been pivotal during the evaluation of TRS and subsequent sunset staff review. Our recommendations to improve the agency may be found by clicking here. You may also read our update about the commission’s January 14 meeting by clicking here.
Rep. Lambert thorough work briefly laid out the tenets of the bill, stating that “TRS manages its trust fund well but needs to focus more on its members.” The bill, if passed, would also set the next sunset review date for TRS in 2033.
The bill covers a variety of issues, including requiring TRS to develop a communications and outreach plan to better help members with retirement inquiries, changes to return-to-work and appeals processes, and adding an ombudsman position that reports directly to the TRS Board of Trustees.
A committee substitute to the bill by Rep. Sergio Munoz was also discussed. The additional language clarifies that the ombudsman position assists both members AND retirees and states that disability retirees are not subject to employment after retirement penalties.
TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee testified in favor of the bill. Lee stated that the bill “deals with a major issue for our members, which is the loss of their benefits if they exceed employment after retirement rules.”
Lee also stated the importance of the ombudsman position, saying it will help the agency and retirees with advanced cases of resolution that need to occur.
The bill was left pending in committee.
Contact Your Legislators About a Possible COLA Today!
As our members know, there are many items on our legislative agenda this session, including pursuing a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for TRS retirees. Please be sure to send this URGENT ACTION ALERT to your State Senator and Representative asking them to co-sponsor the following bills:
- SB 2092 – Sen. Hughes
- HB 3214 – Rep. Capriglione
- HB 3206 – Rep. Herrero
TRTA has received many emails from members asking about progress on eliminating the unfair Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). This issue continues to be at the top of our federal legislative agenda. TRTA has been working closely with members of Congress and will have an update with new information coming soon!
Stay tuned to the Inside Line for this important update in the coming weeks.
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