Session Review: Retirement Systems

Lawmakers made a number of changes to the state’s various retirement systems this session, including approving a study of the possible transfer of management duties for the Omaha school retirement plan to the state.

Retirement Systems Committee chairperson Sen. Mark Kolterman

LB31, introduced by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman, requires the Public Employees Retirement Board—in consultation with the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee, the Omaha School Employees Retirement System board of trustees, Omaha Public Schools board of education and other stakeholders—to prepare a work plan that examines the possible transfer of management responsibilities for the OSERS plan to PERB.

The work plan must identify the tasks, issues, costs and timelines to transfer management and provide a comparison of the annual OSERS administration costs to the estimated cost for PERB to assume management of the plan.

PERB is authorized to assess OPS for costs related to the work plan, which must be completed and submitted to the Legislature by June 30, 2020. OSERS is granted authority to bill OPS for any time or expenses incurred in responding to requests from PERB in completion of the work plan.

LB31 passed 47-0 and took effect immediately.

Senators also approved an omnibus bill.

Among other provisions, LB34, introduced by Kolterman, eliminates an option that allowed a county or state employee retirement plan member who has been terminated and filed a grievance to request and receive up to $25,000 from his or her retirement account during the grievance process.

The measure includes provisions from three additional bills:
• LB35, also introduced by Kolterman, which clarifies that, beginning Jan. 1, 2020, a county or state permanent employee must be at least 18 to be eligible for membership in the county or state employee retirement plan;
• LB36, introduced by Kolterman, which modernizes language and codifies the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems practice of awarding service credit by unifying the creditable service definition across all school employee retirement plan tiers. The provisions also grant NPERS additional time to process refund buy back payments for members who were employed on April 17, 2014, and who timely submit their refund buy back applications to NPERS by April 16, 2020; and
• LB565, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, which clarifies that when a beneficiary is not designated in the state, county or school retirement plans, benefits go to the surviving spouse.

If a member of the retirement system is married at the time of his or her death and there is no designated beneficiary on file, the spouse married to the member on the date of the member’s death will be the beneficiary.

If the member is not married on the date of his or her death and there is no surviving designated beneficiary on file, the benefit will be paid to the member’s estate.

LB34 passed on a vote of 48-0 and took effect immediately.

Finally, the Legislature approved a bill that makes a number of governance and administrative changes to PERB, NPERS, Nebraska Investment Council and OSERS.

Introduced by Kolterman, LB33:
• increases the per diem for PERB members from $50 to $75;
• exempts legal compliance audit contracts from bidding requirements;
• increases from one to two the number of three-year extensions on actuarial contracts that PERB may issue; and
• changes the presentation date of the NPERS and Nebraska Investment Council annual reports to the Legislature from March 31 to April 10, beginning in 2020.

The bill also grants OSERS the same exclusion from the state’s public records law that applies to all other plans administered by PERB.

LB33 passed 47-0 and took effect immediately.

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