Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/11/1999 03:43 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 226 - CREDITED SERVICE FOR ON-THE-JOB INJURIES Number 0020 CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House Bill No. 226, "An Act relating to credited service under the teachers' retirement system for education employees on leave without pay or receiving workers' compensation benefits because of certain on-the-job injuries." Number 0051 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 226, version 1-LSO917\D, Cramer, 5/11/99, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version D was before the committee. Number 100 CO-CHAIRMAN COGHILL explained that if teachers are assaulted on the job and are out of duty, they lose certain benefits. They do not accrue leave or get that time credited to their retirement benefit. House Bill 226 simply lets the teachers have their benefits from the effects of violent assault. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if he were a teacher and came down with pneumonia, he would be covered, but if he were assaulted and was out for three or four weeks recuperating, he wouldn't be covered. RYNNIEVA MOSS, Legislative Assistant for Representative John Coghill, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to testify. She answered that there is an imparity between the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). Currently for any reason, a teacher cannot buy credit service, but under PERS, a public employee can. This bill also brings parity because it allows teachers to fall into that same benefit as PERS. If teachers are off the job because of an occupational illness or injury, they can buy credit service time. Also, HB 226 qualifies all school employees for the benefit of being off the job from a physical injury which resulted from an assault; the employer would pay the credited service time. CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked how many teachers are in that situation in a given year. MS. MOSS replied that she knows of one. There are very few revisions in the proposed CS because of a conversation with Retirement and Benefits to make sure that the language of the legislation covered the intent and was very clean so there couldn't be any misinterpretation of who qualified and who didn't. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if a teacher injured on the job without being assaulted would be covered. MS. MOSS answered that his retirement is not covered. Public employees under PERS are covered; teachers under TRS are not. CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked why HB 226 does not have a fiscal note. MS. MOSS answered that it would not affect the state fiscally; the school district would contribute to the retirement if a teacher were injured from an assault. JOHN CYR, President, National Education Association, Alaska (NEA-AK), came forward to testify in support of HB 226. This legislation will only affect those people who are actually assaulted while working on the job. Currently, if a teacher is ill and has to leave work, he has sick leave, which is a paid status, and he continues in his retirement status. But if a teacher is hurt on the job, he is eligible for worker's compensation. Being on worker's compensation is a leave-without-pay status, which means he is no longer eligible for the retirement benefits. In those few cases where teachers are assaulted while doing their job, they deserve the protection of at least keeping their retirement. In the future, he hopes that no one needs this. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Mr. Cyr if non-certified employees are covered as well. MR. CYR answered yes. GUY BELL, Director, Division of Retirement and Benefits, Department of Administration, came forward to answer questions. The main section that brings TRS on par with PERS allowing people to pay for credited service while on leave-without-pay due to an on-the-job injury is Section 3 (d). The other sections of the bill address the issue of physical assault to a teacher or another school district employee. Under those situations, the employer would be fully responsible for the cost of the TRS time. Number 0699 REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER made a motion to move CSHB 226, version 1-LSO917\D, Cramer, 5/11/99, from committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 226(HES) moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.