Legislative Update on Retirement

The federal government delayed a decision that could cost California billions in federal transportation money.  In a letter to Governor Brown a few weeks ago, the Department of Labor indicated that California’s new pension reform (PEPRA) violated federal rules on collective bargaining and could jeopardize federal funding unless transit agencies were exempted from the recently adopted state law that changes public sector retirement.  A final decision was expected in mid-August but delayed while the Governor negotiates with the Feds. Assembly Bill 160 exempts transit agencies but has not received a green light to move at this point.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 54 was transformed from a harmful retirement bill for Alameda County members to a labor-friendly piece of legislation on toxics. Alameda County Local 21 members teamed up with Operating Engineers Local 3 to stop the bill in its tracks.  As originally written, it created another retirement tier that would have put the County’s pension benefits near the bottom in California. Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland/San Leandro) responded quickly when the two unions raised objections to the bill, arguing that it saved the County very little, if any money and was unnecessary.