UPDATE: Oregon Legislature adjourns without taking any action on HB 2011.
HB 2011 would require state employees to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums. Here is a summary of HB 2011 prepared by its sponsors:
“Requires state employees who participate in health benefit plans offered by Public Employees’ Benefit Board to contribute greater of $50 or five percent of monthly salary or wages to health benefit plan premium costs. Establishes maximum required contribution level. Applies to state employees subject to collective bargaining for pay periods to which collective bargaining agreement executed on or after effective date of Act applies, and to all other state employees for pay periods beginning on or after January 1, 2012. Declares emergency, effective on passage.”
Representative RICHARDSON in the principal sponsor of HB 2011 and the following Representatives have joined in introducing the bill: BENTZ, BREWER, CAMERON, ESQUIVEL, FREEMAN, GILLIAM, HANNA, HICKS, HUFFMAN, JOHNSON, LINDSAY, OLSON, PARRISH, SHEEHAN, SPRENGER, THATCHER, WAND, WEIDNER, WHISNANT and WINGARD.
As of August 10, 2010, 80 out of the 90 Oregon legislators were participating in health benefit plans offered by Public Employees’ Benefit Board. That means that they were not paying any part of the premiums for that insurance. HB 2011’s first reading was on June 15, 2011. It is very unlikely, however, that the bill we be voted on and even less likely that it will be passed. The legislators, as a group, have shown a great reluctance to take any action that would reduce the benefits they receive.
The legislators have a clear conflict of interest when dealing with their own benefits and while that has not prevented them from bestowing benefits on themselves, it has generally resulted in no action being taken to reduce those benefits. But that’s just human nature and it is exactly why conflict of interest rules exist. If the legislators want to have the people of Oregon pay their health insurance premiums they should ask for the people’s consent.