Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Another VEA Bill, VEA Bill Advances, and a STINKER

I listed some of VEA’s bills on Friday, but here is yet another – Delegate Todd Gilbert’s HB 709.  This bill will require Child Protective Services to complete child abuse investigations in a timely manner, reducing the time an innocent teacher who is being investigated is out of the classroom, reducing the time the schools system has to pay both the teacher and the substitute, and reducing the time the accused has to await a finding.
Senator Emmett Hanger’s SB 420, which requires the Fiscal Impact Statements provide to legislators to include the impact of the bill on current and future retirees, was reported by the Senate Finance Committee on a 14-0 vote today.  This bill will now go to the full Senate, and because there were no votes against it, it will be on the uncontested calendar and considered in a block.
The STINKER is Senator Steve Newman’s SB 89.  Let me give you some background.  In 2012 the General Assembly passed a bill which provided VRS members hired after January 1, 2014 a pension substantially inferior to what members hired before that date have.  The quick and dirty is that they will have to work 37 years to get a benefit equivalent to what their predecessors earned in 30 years.
In its original form, the hybrid plan offered no disability protection.  Senator Watkins and others worked with VEA to ensure that hybrid plan participants would have disability protection offered by VRS or equivalent protection offered by the local government or school board.
Senator Newman’s SB 89 lowers the income replacement from what exists in the current Virginia Local Disability Plan.  The current short-term plan reimburses between 60%- 100% for the first 125 days of disability, depending on how long you have been employed.  After 125 days, the disabled employee goes on long term disability at 60% income replacement. 

Senator Newman's bill would only ensure 60% replacement income.  This further degrades the employment benefits of hybrid plan participants.

SB 89 will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow.