Rep. Judy Stiegler was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in November, 2008. She was sworn in as a House member on January 12, 2009. Four days later, on January 15, 2009, she joined PERS. That was one of the very first official acts that she took as a legislator. During the 2009 – 2010 legislative term, she voted for PERS related legislation on multiple occasions.
She voted to allow prisoners to be released early so that the Department of Corrections could pay the employee PERS contributions for its employees. This change in the law required 40 votes in the Oregon House. If Judy would have voted No on that bill, it would not have passed and no prisoners would have been released early. With the assistance of Rep. Stiegler’s Yes voter, the bill received exactly 40 votes and the law was changed.
Judy voted to prevent public agencies from hiring independent contractors in order to save money on employee expenses. The savings realized by using independent contractors would have been used to provide services to the public, including education services for Oregon’s children. Judy’s vote saved jobs and benefits for public employees at the expense of services to the people of Oregon.
Rep. Stiegler also voted for SB 897 which creates a potential bonanza for PERS members, including herself. That bill provides that if PERS makes a mistake that increases the retirement benefit that a PERS member is entitled to, the people of Oregon must pay that PERS member the incorrect benefit. If, however, the PERS mistake reduces the retirement benefit the PERS member is to receive, the mistake is disregarded and the people have to pay the benefit actually learned.
When it comes to PERS matters, Judy Stiegler can not represent the non-PERS residents of Oregon’s 54th House District objectively. When she joined PERS on January 15, 2009, she created a conflict of interest which prevents her from doing so.
If you are a PERS member, Judy’s PERS membership may be viewed as a positive but if your are not in PERS it may be a major red flag.