Legislators returned to the State Capitol on May 4, and it was a busy week for LRTA despite Legislators only hearing “essential” bills. LRTA reached out to the Email Club several times to write to their legislators urging them to hold off on considering bills that could impact retirees, including HB 26, HB 32 and HB 325. Our members are not encouraged to attend committee meetings because the majority of retirees are considered to be at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HB 26 proposes amending the Constitution to limit the guarantee of retirement benefits for state employees to certain types of benefits, and HB 32 recommends adding an optional hybrid retirement plan to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana. Both of these bills, authored by Rep. Barry Ivey, would have a negative impact on the system.
HB 325 by Rep. Mike Echols proposes that Medicare participants in OGB would have to join an OGB Medicare Advantage Plan. Retirees could not continue coverage under any other policy provided for by OGB. This bill could possibly restrict freedom of choice of your current doctor, hospital, or other medical service providers.
You pulled out all of the stops writing letters and emails and making phone calls to committee members. Your efforts made a large impact last week. During the House Retirement Committee meeting on Thursday, Rep. Barry Ivey commented he would not run the hybrid bills this session due to the shortened session and noted the many letters and emails he received. We will notify the membership of any changes. Please continue to keep a careful eye on your emails, the LRTA Facebook page and the LRTA website.
Based on our lobbying efforts and the shortened session, HB 325 also will not be heard in its current form by the House Appropriations Committee this session. However, it could resurface with amendments or in a different committee this session or during a special session. We will keep members informed should further action be needed.
Because you responded to our call to action, you showed Legislators that retirees are a force to be reckoned with. While we cannot be physically present at the Capitol, we can still make our voices heard.
Additionally, the House Retirement Committee met on May 7 and the Senate Retirement Committee met this morning May 11.
The House Retirement Committee is not scheduled to meet this week. Senator Ed Price, chair of the Senate Retirement Committee, stated this morning the Committee will probably meet one more time to hear bills from the House. He also stated there are no more Senate Bills on Retirement to be heard this session. LRTA will continue to monitor the committee agendas and report any changes to you.
LRTA is committed to providing you with timely updates and quality service to the best of our abilities during this time. The staff is continuing to work remotely and monitor the Louisiana Legislature. We are still working and fighting for you, and we hope you are staying safe and healthy during this time. Thank you, once again, for staying vigilant and taking action. There is power in our numbers!
Rodney R. Watson
LRTA Executive Director