A bill expanding membership to committees tasked with state employee benefit issues passed the Senate Jan. 18 by a 17-3 vote.
Senate Bill 29 expands the membership of the State Employee Benefits Committee by adding a state retiree to the committee and adding an additional representative from public sector union organizations, and the bill establishes the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee with membership that includes three state retirees and four members of the General Assembly. It also requires the controller general to provide comprehensive biannual public reports to the General Assembly regarding the work of the State Employee Benefits Committee.
Changes to the pension plans of state retirees prompted protest last summer by a group that is now pursuing legal action against the state. Former legislator John Kowalko, a member of RISE DE, the group suing the state, spoke against SB29 during a committee hearing, because he believes the bill is being fast-tracked and does not represent the needs of pensioners.
The bill now awaits action in the House.