HB 2011, It Will Reduce A Benefit Most Legislators Receive

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.

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About Dan Re

I am an attorney who has lived in Bend and practiced law since 1981. In educating myself about the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), I was shocked at how the PERS laws were changed by the legislature, once legislators were allowed to join PERS in 1971, 26 years after PERS was first created. Those changes personally benefitted the legislators who made them at the direct financial expense of the people they were elected to represent. That is wrong and I intend to change it. In 2009, I started a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, In RE The People, Inc., for the purpose of informing concerned citizens of what happened regarding PERS and other issues of social and civic importance. I then created this blog to further that objective.
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