On May 27th, Oklahoma’s legislative session officially adjourned. In the 2022 legislative session, Keeping Oklahoma’s Promises worked tirelessly to advocate for the retirement security of our public employees and retirees. HB 2486, a bill sponsored by Representative Avery Frix, would bring all current and new Oklahoma state employees back into a defined-benefit pension system. The bill, held over from the 2021 legislative session, passed the House of Representatives with 68 majority votes. Unfortunately, despite support from key lawmakers in the Senate, national interests strongly opposed to defined-benefit pension plans weighed in heavily with Republican legislators. Instead, the bill was amended to remove the restoration of a defined-benefit pension and sent back to the House, where it died. While Representative Frix will not be back next year, there is still strong support for the bill in the House and hope that it can be pushed through in the 2023 session.
The rest of the session was quiet in terms of retirement legislation. Senate Bill 891 by Republican Senator Joe Newhouse was designed to convert the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System (OTRS) to a defined-contribution plan. However, the bill died before making it to the Senate floor.
A piece of legislation did pass that strengthens the compensation base of those employees that remain in the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) defined-benefit plan. The state Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) will determine how state employee pay compares to the private sector and to surrounding states, and require agencies to adjust compensation to meet market conditions, including pay and staffing levels. This was seen as a significant victory by the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.
To learn more about any legislative measures considered during the legislative session, please visit the Oklahoma Legislature’s website at http://www.oklegislature.gov, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!