Legislature(2009 - 2010)
2009-02-27 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2009-02-27 House Journal Page 0352 HB 157 HOUSE BILL NO. 157 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act amending the State Personnel Act to place in the exempt service the chief economist and state comptroller in the Department of Revenue and certain professional positions concerning oil and gas within the Department of Natural Resources; relating to reemployment of and benefits for or on behalf of reemployed retired teachers and public employees by providing for an effective date by amending the delayed effective date for secs. 3, 5, 9, and 12, ch. 57, SLA 2001 and sec. 19, ch. 50, SLA 2005; and providing for an effective date." was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs and Finance Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Zero, Dept. of Administration 2. Zero, Dept. of Natural Resources 3. Zero, Dept. of Revenue The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 25, 2009, follows: "Dear Speaker Chenault: Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill amending the State Personnel Act to place in the exempt service the chief economist and state 2009-02-27 House Journal Page 0353 comptroller in the Department of Revenue and certain professional positions concerning oil and gas within the Department of Natural Resources; and relating to the re-employment of retired state employees. Employment of experienced professional staff with knowledge of the oil and gas industry, world markets and science and engineering specific to the oil and gas business is vital to the State's interest. The State must have the ability to make informed decisions on issues that will have a profound impact on its economic future. The division of oil and gas and the division of geological and geophysical survey of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are responsible for assessing the state's mineral resources, overseeing the assessment and collection of a large portion of the state's revenues related to oil and gas development, as well as management of the state's oil and gas resources. DNR, through these divisions, must maintain an experienced professional staff as well as recruit new staff. To do so, DNR must be able to offer salaries at least somewhat competitive with Alaska's oil and gas industry. Failure to do so could lead to substantial future losses in oil and gas revenues. Additionally, the Department of Revenue has had difficulties recruiting and retaining qualified candidates for the high-level chief economist and state comptroller positions at the current salary levels. By way of specific example, the state comptroller position has been filled by four comptrollers in the previous four years, largely because of the non-competitive salary schedule. The Department of Revenue has also experienced substantial difficulty recruiting qualified candidates for the chief economist due to salary constraints. Finally, the bill would extend the sunset clause applicable to the retired employee rehire program from July 1, 2009 to July 1, 2013. One substantive effect of this change is to allow those retired employees who participate in either the Public Employees' Retirement System of Alaska (PERS) or the Teachers' Retirement System of Alaska (TRS), who have returned to active employment and who elected to have their retirement benefits continue during the time that they are re-employed, to continue to receive their retirement benefits. Extending the sunset date would also allow the rehire program to be available to other retired state employees. As the program presently 2009-02-27 House Journal Page 0354 exists, a rehired retiree must within 30 days of re-employment elect to continue receiving retirement benefit payments during re-employment. Extending the repeal date would have a positive effect in helping reduce employee shortages experienced by both PERS and TRS employers. The program has proven to be an attractive option for retired employees who are considering whether to return to active employment and significantly helps the State of Alaska in filling workforce gaps. Also, extending the sunset date by four years provides the state with additional time necessary to analyze the employee shortages in the various employment sectors and to continue to develop plans to meet anticipated shortages due to the large number of employees slated for retirement in the next several years. The legislative history of this retiree rehire election program indicates that there has already been several extensions of the retiree rehire program. The 2001 amendments provided for the repeal of the election provision on July 1, 2005. During the 2005 legislative session, the statutes were amended to extend the election provisions to July 1, 2009. To further extend the repeal dates for both PERS and TRS members would allow those retired employees to assist the state by returning to active employment and to elect to have their retirement benefits continue during re-employment. I urge your prompt and favorable action on this bill. Sincerely, /s/ Sarah Palin Governor"