As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, TPOAM received some information that the Michigan Legislature may be introducing legislation that would dramatically change negotiated retirement health care. We urged all our members to contact their representatives, and we felt it would be helpful to post some of the responses members have been sending in.

From Scott Czasak

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your opposition to changing public employee retirement or healthcare benefits in the upcoming “lame duck” legislative session. Your thoughts on these and other important matters mean a great deal to me.

Currently, there have been rumors and discussions about a possible move to alter public employee retirement benefits or healthcare benefits before the end of the legislative year. However, no bill has been posted for my review which makes these changes, however there is a bill which was introduced which deals with public employee retirement benefits.

As you may know, on March 9, 2016, Representative Patrick Somerville introduced HB 5438. If enacted, this legislation would prohibit the “average final compensation” on which local government employees’ pensions are based from including overtime, bonuses, the value of accrued vacation and sick leave, one-time lump-sum payments, the cost of fringe benefits, and any payments made “for the specific purpose of increasing the final average compensation”. Importantly, this legislation would apply to income earned after January 1, 2017, or the end of any collective bargaining agreement in place on January 1, 2017. Currently, this bill awaits action in the House Committee on Financial Liability Reform.

Importantly, I am a firm believer we should live up to the obligations we have already made, and if we are to make changes, they should be prospective, not retrospective. When a deal is made the deal should be stuck to, for a person’s word is there bond. If a man’s word is meaningless then he is not really a man. Therefore, if and when any legislation is introduced I will review it carefully, and if I feel it is a step too far, I will vote accordingly.

Thank you again for reaching out to my office. It is the questions, comments, and concerns of residents of the 36th District like you which show me the direction I need to take in order to be the most effective Representative I can be. If you ever have any other reason to reach out to my office please do not hesitate to do so by phone at 888-MICH-REP or by e-mail at PeterLucido@House.MI.gov.
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Scott Ryan Czasak
Legislative Director

Office of Representative Peter J. Lucido
S-885 Anderson House Office Building
Lansing, MI 48933

Office: (517) 373-0843
Direct: (517) 373-6647

From Sen. Shirkey’s Office

Mr. Gary Christopher Lowe:

Thank you for contacting Sen. Shirkey on the pension/health care reform issue. We have received a large number of emails, phone calls and letters on the subject, and we are always glad to hear from you.

Some of the calls and emails alluded to a bill supposedly sponsored by our office. However, Sen. Shirkey has no plans to author such a bill. The outpouring of concern on this issue prompted us to reach out to other offices in order to find out what information they could provide. At this time, none of those offices have indicated that they will be introducing this type of legislation. We were glad to make these calls for you to find out the latest on your behalf, since we know that you are interested.

This is a very important issue that impacts a great many people across the state, so Sen. Shirkey has instructed us to keep tabs on this throughout the rest of this session and to inform you if there are updates on this matter. Thank you for your engagement.

Respectfully in service,

Sean Connors
Sen. Shirkey’s Office
16th District

From Rep. Klint Kesto

Dear Robert,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding public employee pensions. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me on this issue. My priority remains to listen to and understand the issues of the residents of Commerce Twp, West Bloomfield, Wixom, and Wolverine Lake.

My office is not currently working on legislation that will affect the retirement pensions of public employees. As it stands, there has not been a bill presented before a committee on which I sit nor the House floor which would make changes to the system as you cited in your contact with my office. As with any other piece of legislation, when a bill is presented to me for a vote, I will look closely at the policy and how it will affect the hard-working residents of our state. I will make sure to keep your concerns in mind when reviewing the merit of any legislation that makes changes to the pensions system.

When a bill is given a hearing before a committee, there is opportunity for public comment at that time. You can track all legislation at legislature.mi.gov, or you can contact my office with any questions and we would be happy to help.

As you know, this is a very serious issue in the State of Michigan. The work done by public servants, from teachers to police to firefighters, is appreciated by all in our society. I sincerely appreciate the work you have done keeping our community safe. Thank you again for reaching out to me. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any further questions at 517-373-1799 or at klintkesto@house.mi.gov.

Loyally,

Klint Kesto, State Representative
Michigan House of Representatives
Proudly representing Commerce Township, West Bloomfield, Wixom and the Village of Wolverine Lake!
517.373.1799 – Office

From Gretchen Driskell

Dear Mr. Valentine,

Thank you for reaching out about protecting pensions and retirement benefits for public employees. I would also like to thank you for your many years of service to our community.

I firmly believe that our public employees should be fully compensated for the value of their work, which includes the pensions and retirement healthcare benefits that were promised to them. Furthermore, I believe that policies on this important subject should not be made hastily during the “Lame Duck” session and without full and open public consideration of their consequences. Many of our public employees have gone so far as to put their lives on the line to protect our communities, and undercompensating them for their all hard work would be detrimental to their livelihoods, their professions, our government, and our public safety.

As you may know, no bills have been introduced yet on this matter. Should legislation regarding public employees’ pensions or retirement benefits come before me for a vote in the remainder of this legislative session, please know that I will fight to honor the promises made to our public employees and first responders and ensure that they are fully compensated for the value of their hard work.

Thank you again for your correspondence. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this or other matters, please feel free to contact me via email at gretchendriskell@house.mi.gov or by calling my office at (517) 373-0828.

Sincerely,
Gretchen Driskell
State Representative
52nd House District of Michigan

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