HB 2113, which was passed by the Oregon House and Senate by a cumulative vote of 86 to 4, changes the procedure by which Oregon legislators join PERS. Under the prior law, if a legislator wanted to join PERS, that legislator had to give written notice to PERS within 30 days of taking office that he or she wanted to join. If that written notice was not given to PERS within the 30 day period, the legislator automatically became a member of the state deferred compensation plan.
HB 2113 flips the notice requirement. Now, a legislator will automatically become a PERS member unless the legislator gives written notice to PERS within 30 days of taking office that he or she does not want to join. HB 2113 also provides that if a legislator joins PERS on or after August 29, 2003, such legislator must continue to be a PERS member for his or her entire service as a legislator. Under this law, once a legislator joins PERS the legislator can’t get out, except for a major one time exception that is also provided by HB 2113.
The exception exists due to the fact that the HB 2113 procedure is retroactive to August 29, 2003. All elections by legislators to join PERS or to not join PERS made on or after August 29, 2003 are void. PERS is required to notify all legislators who are affected by this retroactive application of the PERS election rule and those legislators will have 90 days from the date of that notice to make a new PERS election. While that means that any legislators who do not give PERS written notice that he or she is not joining will automatically become PERS members, it also means that legislators who joined PERS on or after August 29, 2003 now have the chance to get out of PERS but telling PERS that they do not want to join. My records show that 58 out of Oregon’s 90 current legislators took office on or after August 29, 2003. Those who first joined PERS as legislators will now have the opportunity to change their PERS status.
HB 2113 was considered by the legislature to be so important to the people of Oregon that it was passed with an Emergency Clause. The Emergency Clause said: This 2011 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2011 Act takes effect on its passage. HB 2113 was introduced into the legislature at the request of Governor Kitzhaber. Apparently, the Governor believed that if legislators who joined PERS on or after August 29, 2003 were not given the chance to get out of PERS the people of Oregon might riot, they might get very sick or maybe both. Congratulations to the Governor and hopefully, those legislators who are now eligible to get out of PERS will size this one time, 90 day opportunity to regain their independence on PERS matters.
If you want to know if your legislators first took office on or after August 29, 2003 and if they joined PERS, send a comment to this article or an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org asking that question and I will let you know. If either of your legislators will be required to make a new PERS election, you can let them know whether or not you want them to join PERS. Those legislators represent you and they need to know how you feel about this very important issue.
HB 2113 made other changes to the PERS laws in addition to the procedure for legislators to join PERS. If I see other note worthy changes, I will write about them on this site.