FRS Conference Committee Named

The Conference Committee members are in line to decide the fate of Pension Reform for the Florida Retirement System

It appears the Conference Committee members are in line to decide the fate of Pension Reform for the Florida Retirement System.  As discussed previously, since the House and Senate could not agree on the proposals put forth, the House and Senate have appointed conferees to determine what course the legislature will take as to the reduction or elimination of your retirement benefits.  It can be presumed that whatever agreement the Committee comes up with, will be presented to the Governor for his signature.

In the Senate, Senate President Mike Haridopolos named J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, as the chairman of the Senate Conference with Joe Negron, R-Palm City, as vice-chairman. At large conferees will be republicans Andy Gardiner of Orlando (Majority Leader), Don Gaetz of Destin and John Thrasher of Jacksonville.  Democratics named arer Nan Rich of Sunrise and Gary Siplin, D-Orlando.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Dean Cannon tapped Representative Denise Grimsley as the House Leader of the conferees. Representing the house as republicans will be GOP Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral, Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange, Paige Kreegel of Punta Gorda, Speaker Pro Tempore John Legg of Port Richey, Seth McKeel of Lakeland, William Proctor of St. Augustine, Rob Schenck of Spring Hill,  William Snyder of Stuart and Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel. On the Democratic side will be Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West, Chuck Chestnut of Gainesville, Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg and Franklin Sands of Weston.

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Pension Reform Stalemate goes to Conference!

Since both Houses (the Senate and House of Representatives) sent each other their differing versions of pension reform, and refused to accept either, it will now go to a Conference Committee.

Things will start to get crazy now.  The Senate has passed SB 2100, which is their version of pension reform.  The House, however,  presented  HB 1405, with language that does not coincide with SB 2100.  In order to become law, the same bill must pass both houses in identical language – which they have not.  Since both Houses (the Senate and House of Representatives) sent each other their differing versions of pension reform, and refused to accept either, it appears the matter will now go to a Conference Committee, probably next week.

This is a quote from the Senate Website in regard to the Conference Committee: “For a bill to become an act it must be passed by both houses in precisely the same words and figures. The second house frequently amends and returns the bill to the house of origin.  In the case of bills with substantial differences, the shortcut of a conference committee likely will be taken almost immediately.”  The Conference Committee is really just a horse trading forum; where members from both houses participate in a negotiation process.  According to the Senate site “Conference committees are intended to reconcile differences. This suggests a give-and-take process because if a majority of the conferees from either house refuses to budge, the conference would be stalemated and the bill could fail. However, this rarely happens”.

Ultimately, a group of legislators go into a room, and come out with an agreement.  The process could be either good or bad, as the group doesn’t have to conform to the original bills, and can come up with their own version.  The Speaker of the House, Dean Cannon, and President of the Senate, Mike Haradopolos, have indicated they think they will be ready to go to Conference next week.

Continue reading “Pension Reform Stalemate goes to Conference!”

Some better news, new amendments to SB2100 an HB1405

Today Senator Ring introduced several amendments to SB 2100 that (as we read and interpret) make the following notable and positive changes

Wow, what a difference a day makes.  Today Senator Ring introduced several amendments to SB 2100 that (as we read and interpret) make the following notable and positive changes:

  • ·         The DROP would be extended for five more years.  This would allow members to enter the DROP up until  July 1, of 2016.
  • ·         Special Risk would retain the normal retirement ages of 25 years of service, or age 55.
  • ·         Allow  up to 300 hours of overtime in the calculation of Average Final Compensation
  • ·         Specifies DROP members do not have to make employee contribution.

These are all steps in the right direction!

Continue reading “Some better news, new amendments to SB2100 an HB1405”

Rep. Tobia offers severe amendments to HB 1405!

Representative John Tobia (Republican from Melbourne) offered five new amendments to House Bill 1405. The amendments would bring HB 1405 in line with Governor Scott’s recommendations

Representative John Tobia (Republican from Melbourne) offered five new amendments to House Bill 1405.  The amendments would bring HB 1405 in line with Governor Scott’s recommendations.  As we read and interpret the changes, they include:

  • ·         Reduces the service credit for future years of service in the Special Risk, Elected Officers, and Judges from 3% to 2%.    Amendment 460885
  • ·         Eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustment for Pensions and the DROP after July.  Amendment 279579
  • ·         Eliminate overtime in the calculation of the Average Final Compensation.  Amendment 696491
  • ·         Raises the Employee contribution up to 5% across the board (it had been reduced to 3% in committee).  Amendment 328909
  • ·         Reiterates the closing of the Pension Plan after July 1, and mandates all new members to the Investment Plan.  Amendment 251959

 

Continue reading “Rep. Tobia offers severe amendments to HB 1405!”

Senate backtracks, new bill proposed!

The Senate Budget Committee introduced a new Committee Bill today, SPB 7094. The bill reworks many of the terms of SB 1130 to the detriment of current members.

The Senate Budget Committee introduced a new Committee Bill today, SPB 7094.  The bill reworks many of the terms of Senator Ring’s SB 1130 to the detriment of current members, and brings the Senate version much closer to the House version.    The committee is headed by Republican Senator J.D.  Alexander.  As we read the new proposal, which is to be heard by the Committee on Wednesday, it proposes to:

  ·         Does away with the DROP program after July 1, of 2011.  It appears to read that you must enter the DROP prior to that date in order to be eligible.  (lines 1857 through 1862)

 ·         The Investment Plan will be mandatory for ALL new hires after July 1, 2011, and will not be eligible for a Pension. (lines 888 through 896

Continue reading “Senate backtracks, new bill proposed!”

Committee Approves SB 1130, Rep files HB 1405.

The Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability approved a version of Senator Ring’s proposed Senate Bill 1130 today by a vote of 12 to 1.

The Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability approved a version of Senator Ring’s proposed Senate Bill 1130 today by a vote of 12 to 1.  This was done on the heels of House Bill 1405 filed by Representative Workman from Brevard.  We are not experts on the legislative process, but believe the bill will now go to the Budget Committee for their approval.


As we read the final version of SB 1130, and the myriad amendments we have pieced together we believe it proposes the following important aspects :

  • The proposal eliminates the Pension Plan for all employees hired after July 1, 2011 that make more than $75,000 per year and mandates participation in the FRS Investment Plan for those employees.  A last minute amendment has preserved the Pension Plan for those making less than $75,000, UNLESS you are in the Elected Officers Class, the Senior Management Class.  Member those classes are required to  participate in the Investment Plan is mandatory regardless of Income.
  • A notable change is the proposal now allows 300 hours of overtime and up to 500 hours of accrued leave time in the computation of Average Final Compensation for service before July 1, 2011.   It does away with all  accumulated annual leave pay for service after that date.
  • Employees will make contributions into their FRS Investment Plan.  The contribution schedule is 0% on the first $40,000 of compensation, 2% on compensation from $40,000 to $75,000, and 4% on compensation over $75,000.  They amended the original version to contain language that seems to limit the employee contribution to no more that 2% of total compensation for regular and special risk members, and a maximum of 4% of total compensation for those in the Elected Official and Senior Management Groups.
  • There is also some new language amended to read that NO employee contributions would be required for years in which the plan is 100% funded.  That amendment would raise more questions to us than it answers, but let’s hope it is as simple as it sounds.
  • The vesting schedule for employee contributions is immediate, and for employer contributions vesting is on a graduated scale as follows:

Continue reading “Committee Approves SB 1130, Rep files HB 1405.”

Thoughts from a non FRS member!

Scapegoating public employees seems to be more of an assault on working people and the middle-class,

The following is a letter we received from a Tax-paying Florida Citizen, who is not associated with the Florida Retirement System.  We found it to be refreshing, and wanted to share it with our readers.  Thank you for your perspectives Mr. Cassidy!

To FRS Options,

I am not in the FRS.  I am also not related to anyone in it. I am really just a concerned Florida taxpayer, who does not believe that scapegoating public employees is fair or right. I do not believe that one small group of people should be punished, and essentially “taxed,” just because they chose a job or a career in public service.

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Amendments to SB 1130 FRS Reform

The biggest change as we see it would indicate the amended version will allow for up to 500 hours of overtime to be used in the computation of the Average Final Compensation

Today the Florida Senate returned a “Strike-All” Amendment to Senate Bill 1130 which is meant to reform the Florida Retirement System.  The purpose of the “Strike-All” was to amend the language and stipulations of the original bill, filed by Senator Jeremy Ring.  There were also 5 additional amendments proposed changing other aspects of the proposal.

  • The biggest change, as we read it, would indicate the amended version will allow for up to 500 hours of accumulated leave payments to be used in the computation of the Average Final Compensation.  (lines 208-248, and 274-308).  And further appears that for service prior to July 1, 2011 overtime is included.

This seems to be a significant compromise to the original proposal, but excludes overtime after July 1.  It does not mitigate the fact that overtime is time worked for compensation earned, and therefore, as compensation, should be used for the AFC calculation. Continue reading “Amendments to SB 1130 FRS Reform”

A letter to FRS members from one of you!

NEVER come across as negative, conflict oriented, or otherwise play into the hands of the politicians, who want pictures of workers with pitchforks massing as the gates.

We received this letter from the following individual, and felt it was such a well rounded and wonderful perspective,  that with the author’s permission, we have copied it verbatim.  I urge you ALL to read it, absorb it, and take action accordingly!  Thank you Paul!

Subject: Concern over Legislative Season
By way of introduction, I am a retired Martin County deputy. Politically I am libertarian…

As I read the various posts on Facebook and elsewhere by public sector employees, I am struck with a fear that the attitude being conveyed by far too many public employees is playing directly into the aims of the political structure and their media supporters. The actions in Wisconsin are especially troubling. The political power structure wants to be able to paint the public employees as merely union followers using a pink brush, recognizing that the American voter, suffering under the current economic situation, can be easily led to consider public employees as the problem.

Continue reading “A letter to FRS members from one of you!”

Florida Legislators Benefits

Florida state legislators are members of the Florida Retirement System, just like every other State, County, or FRS member.

There have been a considerable number of posts and comments over the last several weeks about the benefits of our legislators, most of which are not true.  Florida Legislators DO NOT GET 100% of their pay for life after one year of service, or any number of years less than 33 1/3, for that matter.  Florida state legislators are members of the Florida Retirement System – just like every other State, County, or FRS member.  As such, they are members of the Elected Officers Class and entitled to the following benefits:

  • They have the same vesting schedule (6 years).
  • The same formula for determining their benefits.  To be eligible to get a benefit, a Senator or Representative must achieve age 62, or have 30 years of service.
  • Legislators get 3% service credit for each year of service.
  • They get the same health benefits as all other state employees.

You might be surprised to learn that both jobs, Senator and Representative, are considered part time jobs, and Legislator pay is in the area of $30,000 per year, plus $133 per day for expenses and travel to Tallahassee, for every day the session in is in session (up to 60 days = $7,980).

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