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Pension policy modifications receive strong House support

Rep. Kaohly Vang Her outlines the omnibus pensions bill on the House Floor April 21. It passed 120-0. (Photo by Catherine Davis)
Rep. Kaohly Vang Her outlines the omnibus pensions bill on the House Floor April 21. It passed 120-0. (Photo by Catherine Davis)

A dozen largely non-controversial bills initially approved on a bipartisan vote by the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement have been rolled into the omnibus pension policy bill.

The finished product that includes, among others, changes to the Minnesota State Retirement System, Public Employees Retirement Association, and Teachers Retirement Association, received strong House support Friday via a 122-0 vote. HF2950 now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Kaohly Vang Her (DFL-St. Paul) sponsors what she says is a largely technical bill with updates and corrections to ensure everyone is treated the same. It also addresses a handful of one-off cases.

Minnesota House passes HF2950 4/21/23

Three changes to the PERA Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Plan are included: counting years of service with any prior relief association in determining a volunteer firefighter’s vested percentage with the plan; eliminating requirements imposed on relief associations after the affiliated fire department joins the plan; and allowing the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department and the Loretto Firefighters relief associations to join the plan mid-year and have the executive director of PERA merge assets and liabilities of the departments, formerly the assets and liabilities of the two relief associations.

[MORE: View a detailed summary of the bill]

Other potential changes in the bill would:

  • allow a person to be classified as a dependent child in all cases until age 23;
  • increase the threshold for requiring relief associations to file audited financial statements from $500,000 to $750,000 in assets or liabilities in any prior year;
  • alter the monetary threshold required for a governmental subdivision employee to participate in PERA-administered pension;
  • permit local appointed government officials to participate in the PERA Defined Contribution Plan;
  • allow employees in the State Patrol Plan to apply to begin their annuity no more than 60 days, rather than 90, in advance of the employee’s annuity starting date;
  • establish an expanded right for judges to purchase service credit for a period of military leave;
  • extend to three years the minimum time for purchasing service credit for periods of military leave under the Teachers Retirement and St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund associations;
  • up the limit on employer contributions to supplemental plans that are in addition to the primary pension plans provided to public employees for two construction trade unions;
  • allow two Metropolitan Airports Commission employees to transfer service credit for several months of service in 2005 from the PERA General Plan to the PERA Police and Fire Plan upon payment of the missed employee contributions plus interest;
  • let former members of the St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association who receive a retirement annuity to change it to a joint and survivor annuity and designate a same-sex spouse as the survivor if the retiree could not to do so when same-sex marriage was not recognized under state law; and
  • authorize four Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College employees and a Minnesota State employee to transfer from the Minnesota State Higher Education Individual Retirement Account Plan the Teachers Retirement Association. The quintet did not receive the opportunity to transfer when they first became eligible. Additionally, a working group would be established to recommend legislation to eliminate the need for special legislation in similar cases.

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