Texas House Passes TRS Sunset Bill

  • Executive Summary:
  • Texas House Passed the TRS Sunset bill
  • A bill to create a COLA study received testimony in the Administration Committee
  • Tim Lee to interview Ken King live on Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

The Texas House passed the House version of the Sunset bill today related to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to third reading. HB 1585 by Stan Lambert (R – Abilene), passed on second reading on a vote of 147-0. There were no amendments. The Sunset bill will be heard on third reading tomorrow in the House and finally passed over to the Senate.

The Sunset bill’s Senate version, SB 706 by Eddie Lucio (D – Brownsville), passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday. It will most likely make it to the Senate floor next week. The two bills are almost identical, although their may be some amendments in the Senate.

The Sunset bill makes major changes to TRS agency processes and procedures aimed at helping the agency be more responsive to its members. The bill implements an ombudsman for member issues and complaints, requires member outreach plans including regarding health care claims appeals, and reforms the penalty structure for return-to-work retirees among many other issues.

House Committee on Administration Meets, Discusses HB 1732

The Texas House Committee on Administration met today and discussed HB 1732. HB 1732 would create “a joint select committee to study the feasibility and sustainability of providing a cost-of-living adjustment” to Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) annuitants.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) supports HB 1732. TRTA believes there’s a need for regularly scheduled cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retired educators. From 1995-2001, the Texas Legislature provided a stair-step approach to increasing retired educators’ pension checks, called the consumer price index (CPI) catch-up. Since that time, there’s only been one COLA for retired educators. TRS annuitants who have retired since Sept. 1, 2004 have never received a COLA.

Rep. John Bucy III (D – Austin) presented the HB 1732 to the committee. He urged the committee to put themselves in retired educators’ shoes. He said that the bill would create a study with the goal to make COLAs sustainable. “Let’s take care of our retired teachers,” Bucy said.

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee testified in favor of HB 1732. “Most studies scare our retired educators,” Lee said. He said that the studies scare retirees because they often deal with changing the design structure of the pension plan or health care system. Also, the studies are paid for out of the pension plan. However, this study is welcome by retired educators.

“We’re studying something that could help retired educators,” Lee said. “This is a big deal.”

Lee said the bill would help ensure future COLAs for retired educators.

TRTA’s District 13 Legislative Chair Larry Yawn also testified in favor of the bill. Yawn emphasized the personal stories that retired educators shared from the 2013 supplemental payment. “What you do makes a difference in their lives,” Yawn said.

The bill was left pending today.

Reminder: Tim Lee to Interview Rep. Ken King Tomorrow at 3:30 P.M.

Tim Lee will interview Rep. Ken King tomorrow, April 14, at 3:30 p.m. via Facebook and YouTube. Be sure to tune in as they discuss a potential COLA for retired educators!

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