At NPPC, we believe every American deserves to retire with dignity. Our priority is protecting pensions for public workers in states across the country. Here is a look ahead at some of the state legislative sessions we are monitoring this year:
Alaska: State Legislature in session January 16 – May 15, carried over from 2023.
Alaska is experiencing a severe public service delivery crisis due to struggles to recruit and retain public employees. In 2023, Senator Cathy Geissel introduced Senate Bill 88, a bill that would return defined-benefit pensions to state employees, 18 years after lawmakers closed the defined-benefit pension plan to new hires. The bill ended last session in the Senate Finance Committee, and we expect the bill to advance to the House once discrepancies between two separate actuarial analyses are resolved.
Connecticut: State Legislature in session February 7 – May 8, no carry-over from 2023.
In the 2023 regular session, lawmakers in both chambers introduced bills to expand pension access to include more state employees. House Bill 6881 proposed various workplace improvements for paraeducators, including reinstatement into the pension system. Senate Bill 935 was designed to require municipalities to provide pensions for police and firefighters through the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System (CMERS). Both bills did not pass out of committee; however, in 2024, we hope for more opportunities in the labor-friendly state.
Florida: State legislature in session January 9 – March 8th
Lawmakers in Florida have hit the ground running this legislative session with two significant proposals to improve public workers’ retirement security. These legislative initiatives mark a noteworthy development after years of ongoing efforts to reform the pension system.
The first proposal, outlined in SB 1022/HB 973, focuses on reinstating defined benefit pension options for public workers. Notably, SB 1022 introduces the option for workers who had previously chosen a 401(k)-style retirement plan to switch back to the traditional pension plan. This potential shift could positively impact over 3,000 current workers, offering them the stability of a “defined benefit” plan.
The second proposal, SB 242/HB 151, aims to enhance pensions for retirees. SB 242 specifically seeks to reintroduce a 3% annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), benefiting an estimated 151,000 retired state, county, and municipal workers. The bill has already progressed through the House panel and is currently under consideration by the Appropriations Committee.
Kansas: State Legislature in session January 8 – May 3, carried over from 2023.
Kansas lawmakers have seen several attacks on their pension system over the last few years, including bills introduced in 2022 and 2023 to move all public employees to a thrift savings plan. The attempted closure of the defined-benefit system poses a significant threat to the state’s recruitment and retention of public employees. In the summer of 2023, an interim audit of Tier 3 of the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) was conducted, providing an opportunity to improve the tier–but also giving a foothold to pension opponents who want to close the system. We remain diligent in Kansas to protect and improve pensions for the hard-working public employees there.
Kentucky: State Legislature in session January 2 – April 15, no carry-over from 2023.
Kentucky’s public pensions have been in jeopardy since 2013, when lawmakers moved all newly hired public employees, except public school teachers, to a cash-balance hybrid-style retirement system. The 2023 budget session was a quiet one for pensions, and the reelection of Governor Andy Beshear, who has championed pensions for Kentucky public employees in the past, put the state in a good position to continue to fund state retirement systems responsibly and potentially provide a “13th check” supplemental payment for retirees.
Michigan: State Legislature in session January 10 – December 31, carried over from 2023.
In 1997, the Michigan State Employees Retirement System (MSERS) was closed and replaced with a minimal defined contribution plan. In 2010, the Member Investment Plan (MIP) was closed and replaced with a hybrid option known as “Pension Plus.” The 2022 election marked a sea change for Michigan, with pro-pension majorities being elected in both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office for the first time since the 1980s. Those majorities were temporarily reduced in the fall of 2023 when two pension allies in the House were elected as mayors and thus gave up their legislative seats. Special elections to replace them will be held on April 16th. One complicated issue in Michigan is that while the state no longer offers a pension, many municipalities still do, which makes retaining state workers more challenging. Michigan will be a state to watch this year.
Oklahoma: State Legislature in session February 5 – May 31, carried over from 2023.
In 2015, state lawmakers made the decision to close the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) to future state employees. This move has significantly impacted the state’s ability to recruit and retain public employees. Addressing this concern, HB 2854 was introduced during the 2023 legislative session. The bill aims to reopen the pension plan for both current and future state employees, offering a secure and dignified retirement.
Notably, during the last legislative session, the bill successfully passed through the House of Representatives. As the upcoming session approaches, HB 2854 remains active and is awaiting consideration by the State Senate.
Wyoming: State Legislature in session February 12 – March 8, no carry-over from 2023.
In 2023, legislators passed HB 11, moving full-time Wyoming State Park Rangers into the law enforcement pension plan; marking a big win for the state. Retired public employees have not had a COLA in over 14 years, and lawmakers may seek out a “13th check” supplemental payment this year. Wyoming, like many states, is wary of the possibility of anti-ESG legislation making its way into the Statehouse, and its proximity to states like North Dakota–which voted to close its pension plan to state employees last year–along with its supermajority makes it vulnerable to anti-pension interests.