Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Legislation & Governance

2016 Proposed Legislation Status

2017 Legislative Session
Gold covered dome of State Capitol Denver

A summary of proposed legislation affecting Colorado PERA. Check back often for new bills and updated status reports. Last updated: March 21, 2016.

House Bill 16-1207

PERA Investments in Renewable Energy Companies

HB 16-1207 requires that PERA, beginning January 1, 2017, and in each calendar year thereafter, ensure that, of the moneys that are not already invested by PERA, at least one percent of such moneys are invested in renewable energy companies. If PERA is unable to invest one percent of such moneys in renewable energy companies in any calendar year, PERA would be required to explain why it was unable to satisfy the requirement in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Sponsor: Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D-Denver)

Status: The bill was defeated in the House Finance Committee (11-0) on February 24.

PERA Board position: Oppose


House Bill 16-1284

Concerning Divestment by PERA From Companies That Have Economic Prohibitions Against the State of Israel

HB 16-1284 would require PERA to make its best efforts to identify all companies that have economic prohibitions against Israel, assemble those identified companies into a list of restricted companies by January 1, 2017, and to review the list of companies on a bi-annual basis. This bill is structured similar to the statute regarding PERA’s Sudan Divestment requirements, and would require divestment of companies on the restricted list.

Sponsors: Representatives Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs), Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), Lang Sias (R-Arvada), Lois Court (D-Denver), Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland), Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), Justin Everett (R-Littleton), Alec Garnett (D-Denver), Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village), Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), Polly Lawrence (R-Littleton), Paul Lundeen (R-Monument), Dan Pabon (D-Denver), Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), Angela Williams (D-Denver); and Senators Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo), Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs), Mark Scheffel (R-Parker), Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa), Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City), Chris Holbert (R-Parker), Michael Johnston (D-Denver), Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling)

Status: Passed House Business Affairs and Labor Committee (13-0) on February 23, and Passed Third Reading in the House (54-10-1) on February 26. Passed Senate Finance Committee (5-0) on March 3, and passed Third Reading in the Senate (25-9-0) on March 9. Signed by the Governor on March 18.

PERA Board position: Oppose


Previous legislative session summaries:

2015 Legislative Session

2014 Legislative Session

Comments

  1. George Currie says:

    Isnt PERA interested in supporting the repealing of the unfair treatment of Social Security to the recipients of PERA and other type of government retirement’s where social security is not being withheld.

    • Dean Stegman says:

      Yes, why should we be penalized

    • Bill Murphy says:

      YES….TOTALLY…I paid into social security for 40 years….and only receive $5000. year……Why should I be penalized?………for being a good citizen for all these years…..paid taxes faithfully for every year….still do……I do love PERA Retirement……for us teachers….THANK YOU……We did not earn lots during those years…..and saw many HP friends and neighbors….take huge $5 and $10,000. Christmas Bonuses home…..and guesS what us poor teachers got?……HELLO?…..Do what you can….If you need to me to testify @ the state level I would happy to do so…..I’m a retired high school counselor and English/Latin Teacher of 32 years…..Bill Murphy Here 🙂

      • Don Schaefer says:

        It is my understanding that if you paid in for more than 30 years…meaning the entire year of course, then the WEP does not apply to you. If you only paid in for two or three months over 40 years, then that is different. Sounds as if that was the case for you since your benefit is not that high.

    • Suzanne says:

      I also receive my PERA after teaching 26 years in Colorado. I do not get a penny of my SS for the many, many other jobs I had. What’s worse, I have to pay for my Medicare because I don’t get MY OWN SOCIAL SECURITY (which is supposed to pay for it) I ALSO do not get my husband’s SS … he died 2 years ago. AND TO MAKE MATTERS> more of a joke~ I worked a job and paid into SS after I retired .. don’t get a penny of that money~ and now I substitute teach and PERA is taken out but it doesn’t increase my PERA. This is absolutely ridiculous. PERA COULD CARE LESS IN MY OPINION. I think ALL TEACHERS SHOULD SIGN A FORM WHEN THEY ARE HIRED INFORMING THEM OF THE OUTCOME OF THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY IF THEY EARNED IT. NO ONE BELIEVES THIS WHEN I TELL THEM UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE.

      • Dennis says:

        It sounds to me like you are misinformed, maybe not. You need to make an appointment with your nearest SS office. If you have accumulated 40 quarters in SS you will receive something. Also, if you were married to your husband for at least 10 years, you will get Medicare. Yes, you have to pay a monthly premium, but it is worth it. Cheaper than going out and getting other insurance. I get both, yes the SS amount is small…I only got 40 quarters, due to paying into PERA, but who cares…..PERA is a lot better retirement. The WEP does reduce the amount of SS right now, but they are working on that also. Who knows if they will get the job done. Something doesn’t sound right with your comments. Maybe you thought the Medicare Ins. would be free….no….not free. Check with your SS office they can give you reasons for your situation.

        • Suzanne says:

          Dennis. Something is wrong only I can’t do a thing about it! I was married for 30 years. I myself have worked in non PERA positions since I was 16; paid into SS and had more than the required 40 quarters for Medicare. My husband worked for over 50 years and paid into SS. YES, I have been to the SS office multiple times… they said I had absolutely no entitlement to my OR my husband’s SS EVER! I PAY OVER $700. A year for Medicare and additional for a Supplemental plan. Everyone I know who has Medicare has it taken from their SS/ but since I don’t get any I have to pay for it… makes NO SENSE!
          I have to continue working for bills that life necessitates… I pay into SS or PERA and will NEVER see any of it. There is something seriously wrong here!

          • Dennis says:

            Yes, I agree. Something is terribly wrong. This is not what I have been
            told or doing with Medicare and Social Security money. I was told if you have
            the 40 quarters, at least, and you do, that is for sure, you will always get something. Also, you should get the Medicare coverage for the cheaper rate and the you would need to get a supplementary health insurance through PERA. I would try another Social Security office. This I wouldn’t let up on, until I had a satisfactory explanation why you are having so much trouble. Something is not right here.

        • Carmen Herrick says:

          Everybody pays for medicare when they are under medicare. I retired from CDOT and also worked under SS for 11 plus years before working for CDOT. Yes my SS is reduced but all I care about is that there is enough SS to pay for the medicare premium and I do not have to pay out of my pocket for the medicare premium. My maximum SS is about $250 a month. Guess what? I have to pay taxes on half of that! What a break that I have to pay taxes on that little amount!?!? That to me is unfair.

        • Darrell Gorre says:

          Medicare Ins(urance) is still an Entitlement, no matter what you an Obama may think. If your referring to the supplemental then call it that!

    • Frank Mills says:

      I am more than slightly interested in following The progress for working Congress to change this dastardly law which limits our reception of Social Security funds we have paid into through the years.

      Please contact me to be part of a group which will enthusiastically track the progress of the change in this discriminating law..

      How and why such a posture was taken and received by those of us who have worked hard during our lives paying Social Security and then being discounted in our retirement I do not know and would like to learn.

      my interest is in changing this oppressive unfair and crippling situation for those of us who enjoy work and have worked our whole lives

  2. Frank Adams says:

    House Bill 16-1284 is very misleading. The Sudan divestment was to avoid companies that invested in Suden whereas Bill 16-1284 appears to encourage Pera not to invest in companies who don’t favor the Israel war crimes and continued occupation of Palestine. Pera should be supporting those companies not divesting from them. Was this bill written by Zionists who support the unlawful occupation and persecution of non Jewish Israelies? I would prefer to not invest in all Israel business interests.

  3. Robert Kinsey says:

    I urge the PERA board to oppose HB16-1284. *Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of free speech, and have a long history of being used successfully to address injustice and effect political change.
    *The BDS movement is a non-violent movement that seeks equal rights by pressuring Israel to: End its occupation of Palestinian land, Recognize the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, Respect, protect and promote the right of Palestinian refugees.
    *”Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in their own safe and secure states.” [Line (m) in the Declarations section of the bill] This is a laudable goal, but it has not happened. After its conquest of the West Bank in 1967, Israel built settlements on Palestinian lands east of the Green Line. The West Bank is now home to more than 500,000 Israeli settlers. Furthermore, the charter of the current ruling party, Likud, stipulates that there shall be no Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. In 2015, Israel built 1800 new housing units in Israeli settlements
    *The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, explicitly prohibits an occupying power from transferring “parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.”
    *Current Israeli leaders oppose a Palestinian state. On March 16, 2015, PM Netanyahu said there will be no Palestinian state on his watch and the Likud party charter stipulates that there shall be no Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.
    *The BDS movement does not threaten Israel’s existence. Similar to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, BDS challenges Israeli policies that discriminate against non-Jews.
    *Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports the BDS movement: “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime. The same issues of inequality and injustice today motivate the divestment movement trying to end Israel’s decades long occupation of Palestinian territory and the unfair and prejudicial treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them.” (Haaretz, March 10, 2014: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.578872 )
    *BDS is a human rights movement with a goal to advance freedom, justice, equality and self-determination for Palestinians. From the Boston Tea Party to the Montgomery bus boycott, Americans have inspired this campaign.
    *The BDS movement is a legitimate, nonviolent tactic to oppose Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians – such movements have been used in the past to advance social justice, most notably in South Africa
    *The bill states that the effect of the law should not interfere with the foreign policy of the U.S. – the Israeli settlements that are the target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions are being built in very clear violation of U.S. foreign policy. Every president since 1967 has called on Israel to stop building settlements.

    The declarations are problematic in perpetuating myths about Israel:
    *The values of “freedom, democracy and equal rights” are not available to Palestinians. More than 50 Israeli laws discriminate against the 25% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian. For example, Jewish communities are permitted by law to deny new residents based on ethnicity.
    *Israel is not a victim; its existence is not in jeopardy; Israel’s military is the strongest in the region, ranking as the eleventh strongest military in the world and it has U.S. backing
    *Israel operates a separate military court system for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, denying Palestinians the same protections Israelis and Americans enjoy.
    *It has been more than 20 years since the Oslo Accords. “Bilateral negotiations” have proven not to be a solution. Israel has used these years to seize more Palestinian land, doubling the number of settlers in the West Bank.
    *The purpose of BDS is not to isolate Israel, but to encourage the current government to end its denial of basic civil rights to its non-Jewish residents.

    • Rich Wilke says:

      As you can see, fellow retirees, the Leftists have taken over the State of Colorado. Those that support terror in our world should be shunned and ignored. Supporting the killings by Hamas and it friends is idiotic and troubling.

    • Don Schaefer says:

      1. PERA funds should not be used to make political statements or pressure political entities. Its purpose is to provide retirement income. I don’t like divestment policies for Iran, Sudan, or any other country.

      2. Could someone tell me what companies will we have to divest from? I remember the days of the South African divestment argument when PERA opposed divesting because it would have meant divesting in many companies that did business in and employed many employees in Colorado. Remember, the PERA funds belong to the retirees and members…it is not state or tax money once it enters the PERA account just as premiums for health care insurance to Kaiser or Blue Cross paid by the state ends to be taxpayer money when it enters their accounts.

  4. Paul Pluta says:

    I think the answer to George’s question is no. PERA seems to have little interest in helping retirees maximize their incomes post retirement. The SS offset requirements amount to a penalty against those of us who built and continue to build SS retirement through contributions/taxes.
    Similarly, PERA decided to support taxing retirees in the form of additional PERA contributions when we return to state employment as temps under circumstances where these extra contributions do not increase the individual’s annuity or permit refund of the contributions to the PERA annuitant/retiree..
    Additionally, PERA supported the “shared sacrifice” approach to the mess it got the fund into a decade ago. For retirees, that meant losing the potential to receive a 3% increase in annuity payments for the rest of their lives.

    • Don Schaefer says:

      People seem to misunderstand Social Security. It is a welfare program, and it is not comparable to PERA. The career lower- income person receives a higher percentage return than a high income person. For someone under PERA, the SS records look as if you are a low income person when in actuality you get a benefit from a non-Social Security covered job.Thus the WEP makes an adjustment so we don’t receive the higher percentage.

      For GPO, the 50% spousal benefit was meant for “spouses” who did not work and earn a benefit. A PERA retiree may not receive SS on their own employment, but would receive a spousal benefit. However, since that person actually has an income, your spousal benefit may be eliminated based on how much your PERA is. Likewise, a person who worked on SS could not also draw a spousal benefit. There is logic in the law. We may not like it, but it does make sense.

      • Marti Stocker says:

        Why does this logic only work in 35 states? Retirement benefits should travel with you in the mobile society we live in. Why penalize those of us who moved as spouses took private sector work. Women seem to be penalized over and over for working. Social security payments were NOT an option in my 40 year working career. Payments are sent to divorced spouses living in other countries and those of us in Colorado are penalized by WEP.

    • Mark Hardy says:

      PERA didn’t get us into a mess, the State Legislature did. Only the State Legislature can change the rules, not PERA. When the stock market was booming, the States’ politicians were in a state of panic to give away money and reduce contribution rates for employers because PERA was more than 100% funded. They proposed changes that should not have been made. That knee-jerk reaction is what caused the unfunded liability when the market tanked. Unfortunately, PERA staff is forced to figure out how to propose solutions to correct the mess that the incompetent politicians and appointees created. Lesson learned for politicians – keep your hands off!!!

  5. Lorrie Toni says:

    I am not sure I would support political control over investing decision-making by investment associations. But I do know, personally, I am boycotting all purchases of Apple products. An American corporation that will not work with our FBI to help protect us against terrorism does not earn my dollar.

  6. Karen Connell says:

    Yes, I also have 40 quarters in Social Security plus 30 years in PERA and keep hoping I’ll see legislation to allow me to collect ALL of my earned retirement funds. Especially since health care on Medicare and supplemental health insurance keeps increasing more than 3% every year. Is there any hope of this happening?

  7. Dema Herrera says:

    I worked full time for 13 years at IBM and paid into Social Security for the entire time. It isn’t far that we are not calculated the same as others who pay into Social Security. We don’t want more that what we deserve but deserve the full amount of what we have paid and are entitled to.

  8. Barb clementi says:

    Both the GPO and the WEP deductions to SS are federal decisions dealing with social security and have nothing to do with PERA, other than it is one of the 15 public pension systems across the country to which these deductions attach. You should be talking to Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner, as well as your congress persons……..

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