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LEGISTLATIVE UPDATE: Pension plan passes

Rep., 70th District

On Monday last week we grappled with the proposal for a new KPERS plan — the retirement program for Kansas’ new governmental workers set out in House substitute for SB 259. The plan will be called Tier III and deals with workers hired in and after 2014, if it clears both houses, and approved by the governor.

It does not impact those currently in KPERS in any way; it only deals with new hires. The proposal is a cash balance plan, which means the state or local government will contribute 4 percent and the employee will contribute 6 percent to the fund, and the money goes into that employee’s account.

The contribution will earn a guaranteed 5 percent rate of return, with the possibility of bonus payments if certain benchmarks are met. After 7 years of continuous employment in governmental work the employee will have a vested interest, and will have the absolute right to that money, whatever it may become, at that guaranteed rate. To the extent the rate earned on the invested money is above that, the extra will be used to fund the large unfunded KPERS debt, subject to certain benchmarks and controls.

The full House added a defined contribution plan to this proposal, which would allow an employee to opt for investing the government’s and employee’s contributions in the open market through a selected investment group and have whatever the employee might make — no guarantee of return.

I opposed the defined contribution proposal when it was proposed to be the only choice offered; but with it as an option for the employee to choose either the cash balance plan or the defined contribution plan, I believe it’s fine to give the employee a choice.

If adopted as the bill now stands, the employee would have 6 months to make up his or her mind on which plan to enter, and once selected, it’d be irrevocable.

On Tuesday last week we passed our proposed Congressional District redistricting map, and on Wednesday we defeated on final action that same bill we had just passed the day before.

House substitute for SB 344 contained a map that snaked the big First District over, above and around Topeka, and placed Wyandotte County in the First District, and we did not adopt it. We adopted another proposed map that would keep Johnson and Wyandotte Counties together, put Riley County in the 2nd Congressional District, and leave House District 70 split between First and Fourth Districts. I believe it carved up Butler County between the First and Fourth.

The speaker, who chairs the re-apportionment committee, talked to the Republican caucus, and requested we defeat the bill on final action, saying that if given a chance, his committee would improve some imperfections in the adopted map. It would keep Johnson and Wyandotte counties together, but tweak a couple of items deemed problematic.

I’ve seen the proposed replacement map, and it is very similar to the one we did adopt, so I believe it’ll be OK, once it comes to the House floor. It think it’ll help Butler County a bit.

HB2353 came up for final action on March 12, and passed the House. The bill proposes to require cities, counties, and the state to either place scanners/monitors and guards at every entrance to each of its buildings, or permit concealed weapons on their premises.

The bill initially included hospitals, nursing homes, and college buildings of all kinds, but an amendment was added to exclude them for four years if their governing body adopts a policy prohibiting concealed weapons. The bill does not provide for any extension beyond the four years, so essentially, in four years there’s no exclusion; and colleges, hospitals and nursing homes could not opt to exclude concealed weapons in their facilities on any long-term basis.

City, county, and state buildings have no such option in the bill, and it’s either add active security at all entrances, or concealed guns are permitted. I do not believe this is a wise policy, and voted “no.” The bulk of this bill showed up again last week stuffed into a Senate bill, and again, it has only the exclusions I’ve previously described, so once again, I was a no vote. It still passed.

We’ve passed many other bills, too numerous to mention here. Perhaps over our 23-day break that starts April 2nd, I can fill you in on more.

You may email me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861, or call me at (620) 382-2133; or in Topeka call at (785) 296-7636.

We will be on break until April 25, so don’t use my Topeka contact information until then. Thanks.

Last modified March 28, 2012

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