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2nd Extraordinary Session News #3: Return-to-work bill continues to move forward

Oct 16, 2020

House Bill 97 (Rep. Bacala), formerly House Bill 36, is a substitute bill regarding return-to-work guidelines during states of emergency. The bill went before and received final passage in the full House on Thursday. It now moves to the Senate Retirement Committee for consideration.
The bill would authorize re-employment of retirees from the four state retirement systems during a declared state of emergency without suspension or reduction of benefits if the following conditions occur:
  • The hiring occurs during a state of emergency declared by the governor;
  • The employer certifies in writing to the retirement system that employment of the retiree is critical to the effectiveness of the employer’s response to the emergency;
  • The date of the retiree’s retirement is more than 30 days before the initial declaration of emergency; and
  • The retiree’s retirement is not based on disability.

Specific to TRSL, this substitute bill provides as follows:
  • That the ability to be re-employed without reduction or suspension ends on the last day of the month in which the state of emergency terminates.
  • Thereafter, until the end of the fiscal year (June 30), retirees who remain re-employed and whose earnings exceed 25% of their FAC during the fiscal year, will have their benefits reduced by the amount in excess of the earnings cap.
  • After the last day of such fiscal year, enrollment in the system will be terminated for all RTW retirees re-employed under the provisions of this bill, and such retirees shall become subject to the regular RTW laws;
  • Stipulates that RTW retirees cannot be concurrently re-employed under any other provisions of the RTW law;
  • Requires both RTW retirees and employers to make contributions to TRSL for the duration of the re-employment, but specifies that RTW retirees will not accrue any additional retirement benefits due to their re-employment during a declared state of emergency;
  • States that RTW retirees can receive a refund of the employee contributions after termination of the re-employment;
  • Provides for reporting requirements for employers to report the hiring of a RTW retiree during a declared state of emergency, which are similar to reporting requirements in current law; and
  • Provides that the proposed law’s applicability terminates 60 days after adjournment of any Regular Session of the Legislature if state of emergency has been in effect continuously for more than 365 days on the first day of such session.
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