Session Review: Retirement Systems

Lawmakers made several changes to provisions of the state’s retirement systems this session.

LB950, introduced by Louisville Sen. Dave Pankonin at the request of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System, makes technical and clarifying changes to state-administered retirement plans.

Among other provisions, the bill:

  • clarifies that temporary and substitute school employees are not plan members;
  • clarifies termination provisions in the school employees retirement system;
  • specifies when termination occurs and who qualifies as a temporary, regular, part-time and substitute employee;
  • clarifies that a qualifying disability under the county, state and school employee retirement plans must have occurred while a member was a participant in the plan;
  • clarifies that medical examinations for disabled retirees under the county plan are not required after age 55;
  • specifies that a part-time employee becomes a regular employee and must begin contributing to the school employee retirement system if he or she works an average of 15 hours per week within each calendar month of at least three calendar months of a plan year;
  • clarifies which state Department of Education employees may elect to become members of the school retirement plan and which employees are automatically enrolled in the state employees retirement plan; and
  • amends provisions of LB403, passed by the Legislature in 2009, into the county, judges, state patrol, school employees and state employees retirement acts and the deferred compensation plan. LB403 prohibits payment of benefits to non-citizens or those not lawfully in the United States.

The bill also contains provisions of LB899. Sponsored by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, LB899 continues state annual level dollar payments to the judges, state patrol and school employees defined benefit retirement plans. The payments will fund purchasing power cost-of-living adjustments through fiscal year 2012-13.

LB950 passed on a 42-0 vote.

The committee held a public hearing on a bill that would have provided for the transition of certain state Department of Labor employees to the State Employees Retirement System.

LB979, introduced by the committee on behalf of the state Department of Labor, would have applied to the 61 active members of the department’s independent retirement plan that was closed to new membership in 1984.

The bill would have assured that active employees would become immediately vested in the state plan should the department plan be terminated in the future. Retirement benefits accrued under the independent retirement plan would have continued to be governed by the terms of that plan.

LB979 was advanced to general file but was not scheduled for debate.

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