Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

03/24/2009 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved SB 129 Out of Committee
Moved HJR 19 Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSSB 23(L&C) Out of Committee
        SB 126-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIREES; EXEMPT SERVICE                                                                     
11:06:09 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of SB 126.                                                                             
GINGER  BLAISDELL, Director,  Administrative Services,  Department                                                              
of Revenue  (DOR), said SB 126  has three parts: two  positions in                                                              
DOR; 23  positions in the  Department of Natural  Resources (DNR);                                                              
and an extension  of a sunset for the retiree/rehire  program. The                                                              
positions  for DOR  include the  state comptroller  and the  chief                                                              
economist.  The  economist is  in  a  classified position  in  the                                                              
supervisory bargaining  unit, and after multiple  recruitments the                                                              
position has  been unfilled for a  year and a half. The  bill will                                                              
exempt the position  so the state can increase the  pay. The state                                                              
comptroller has turned  over four times in four  years because the                                                              
employee has left  for a higher paying job. The bill  will move it                                                              
into exempt status  instead of partially exempt "so  that we could                                                              
use   a  different   pay  scale."   The  positions   in  DNR   are                                                              
professional level,  which are  out-marketed. Market-based  pay in                                                              
the private  sector is  significantly higher  than what  the state                                                              
can  offer.  "So we're  looking  at  taking them  from  temporary-                                                              
project  service  into full-time  exempt  status  for a  long-term                                                              
project."  The  retiree/rehire   program  has  had  two  different                                                              
terms. This  one will  sunset on  June 30,  so on  July 1  the few                                                              
employees  that  are retirees  would  have  to  make a  choice  of                                                              
retaining  their positions  and  stop receiving  their  retirement                                                              
benefits, or  they would  have to  retire, making those  positions                                                              
11:09:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  MENARD said  the first  retiree/rehire  program started  in                                                              
2001 and was continued in 2005. What was the original intent?                                                                   
MS. BLAISDELL  said it was to  fill positions that  were difficult                                                              
to fill.                                                                                                                        
CHAIR MENARD  asked if  retirees, prior  to 2001, were  prohibited                                                              
from returning to state work in any capacity.                                                                                   
MS.  BLAISDELL  said  once  state  workers  retire,  they  receive                                                              
retirement benefits.  If they return  to work with the  same plan,                                                              
they forfeit retirement pay and receive regular position pay.                                                                   
11:10:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR MENARD surmised that there would be 23 employees affected.                                                                
MS.  BLAISDELL  said  those  are   at  DNR  and  are  not  rehired                                                              
retirees.  The  23 employees  in  that  program  are listed  in  a                                                              
report that  the committee has.  There are 77 TRS  active retirees                                                              
and  47   PERS  active  retires   employed  by  state   and  local                                                              
CHAIR MENARD  asked how this affects  young employees who  want to                                                              
climb up the ladder.                                                                                                            
MS. BLAISDELL said  there have been questions on  upward mobility,                                                              
but  the retiree/rehire  program  is  only  allowed if  there  are                                                              
fewer than  five candidates  for any given  position. It is  not a                                                              
shoe-in  for the  retiree  to  get that  job.  There  are only  36                                                              
positions using  the program, and  the state has 15,000  to 17,000                                                              
CHAIR  MENARD said  she has  always  had a  problem with  retirees                                                              
taking the  slots of new  hires who have  potential. It  shuts out                                                              
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked if there are  124 in TRS and PERS,  and the                                                              
bill is to expand it with 23 positions in DNR.                                                                                  
MS. BLAISDELL said  no. There are two separate actions  in SB 126.                                                              
The  DNR  and DOR  positions  are  just  being changed  to  exempt                                                              
service to use  a different pay scale. The  retiree/rehire program                                                              
is separate.                                                                                                                    
11:14:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked the average  age of retirement for  the 124                                                              
MS. BLAISDELL said she doesn't know.                                                                                            
CHAIR MENARD asked about making it two separate bills.                                                                          
MS.  BLAISDELL  said  the  bill  has  two  topics,  but  both  are                                                              
personnel related. She  is not sure why the governor  chose to put                                                              
them in one bill.                                                                                                               
11:14:58 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked if this is "must-have legislation."                                                                        
MS. BLAISDELL  said if  the portion that  allows the  positions to                                                              
become  exempt were  deleted, the  DNR positions  would remain  in                                                              
temporary  status,  and  the DOR  positions  would  likely  remain                                                              
vacant  or become  vacant.  Those positions  are  critical to  the                                                              
needs  of the  state. The  retiree/rehire program  will sunset  on                                                              
July  1 if the  bill doesn't  pass. So,  124 people  will need  to                                                              
make  the choice  of staying  in their  positions without  drawing                                                              
retirement benefits or leaving.                                                                                                 
SENATOR FRENCH  asked if those  124 would stop getting  retirement                                                              
if they stayed in their jobs.                                                                                                   
MS. BLAISDELL said  that is correct; they would  just be receiving                                                              
their regular pay.                                                                                                              
11:16:22 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked if it is a must-have bill for the governor.                                                                
MS. BLAISDELL said she doesn't know.                                                                                            
SENATOR  FRENCH said  he  has many  questions  and  would like  to                                                              
address it later.                                                                                                               
CHAIR MENARD agreed.  In the interest of time,  the committee will                                                              
take it up on Thursday.                                                                                                         
SB 126 was held over.                                                                                                           

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