Omnibus bill moves through committee

This morning, the Omnibus Pension Bill (SF 1803/HF 1951) was approved by the House Government Operations and Senate State and Local Government Committees.  The bill must be heard in additional committees before it goes to the House and Senate floors.  The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House State Government Finance Committee on Tuesday, April 1 at 2:15 pm in Room 5 of the State Office Building.  The Senate Finance Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing for the pension bill.

In the Senate Committee, Sen. Thompson (R-Lakeville) offered five amendments related to the sections of the bill covering the Duluth-TRA consolidation and St. Paul Teacher Retirement Fund aid.  His amendments failed by votes of 4 to 6.  His amendments would have:
1. Removed the $14 million in annual state funding to TRA for the DTRFA consolidation
2. Deleted all Duluth consolidation provisions of the bill
3. Granted $14 million in annual state aid to TRA but with no consolidation of Duluth Teachers
4. Deleted the additional $7 million in annual state aid for SPTRFA
5. Granted $7 million in annual state aid to TRA rather than to SPTRFA

Sen. Hall (R-Burnsville) offered one final amendment that would have required the Duluth School District to pay an additional contribution of 3.64% of pay for each of its active teachers (similar to what the Minneapolis School District pays) and lowered the state aid to TRA from $14 million to $12.6 million.

The House Committee debated the bill for nearly two hours.  The parts of the bill receiving the most attention were the Duluth-TRA merger, past COLAs provided by the systems, and the TRA provision permitting dues deductions from retiree annuities for membership in labor organization or retiree groups.  The bill’s author, Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), offered an amendment to conform funding for DTRFA and SPTRFA to the House’s FY 2015 supplemental funding targets.  The DTRFA consolidation funding was set at $15 million annually and the aid would commence one year earlier, in FY 2015.  Similarly, the additional $7 million in aid for SPTRFA would also commence one year earlier.

Laurie Fiori Hacking
Executive Director
Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association