Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update: April 8, 2014

 

In This Update:

1.     Rally for Working Families on Tuesday, April 8

2.       Vote by Mail in the Nebraska Primary Election

3.       Changes to Reinstatement of Retirement Service Credit

4.       Prioritized Education-Related Bills

 

Rally for Working Families on Tuesday, April 8

5:30 p.m. Nebraska State Capitol, West Entrance

A number of statewide organizations will rally for working families in conjunction with the National Week of Action for Real Prosperity Across America.  The rally is Tuesday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m., on the Nebraska State Capitol west entrance steps.

The rally is open to the public and will discuss a policy agenda including minimum wage, childcare support, Medicaid expansion, equal pay and other issues to help working individuals and families become prosperous.

It is imperative that the policy agenda of current and incoming elected officials is reflective of the hardworking families that they represent who are struggling to make ends meet.  The group hopes to hear from you, your family and your friends to create policies that ensure hard work pays in Nebraska!  Bring family and friends!


Vote by Mail in the Nebraska Primary Election

It takes just minutes to fill out the application to vote by mail to have a ballot sent directly to you. It is quick, convenient, and safe, and here’s how:

1. Make sure you are registered to vote.  If not, complete this form and deliver to your local clerk or election commissioner by April 25.

2. Next fill out and sign this form.  You must mail this form in time to be received by your county clerk or election commissioner on Wednesday, May 7.

3. Mail it today to your local clerk or election commissioner. Click here to find the address.

You will receive your ballot by mail before the election. Fill out the ballot and mail it back in time to be received by your county clerk or election commissioner no later than Tuesday, May 13.

Full details for registration and early voting: http://www.nsea.org/nebraska-early-voter

 

Retirement Service Credit Bill Eliminates ‘Airtime’ Rates

 LB1042, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, will make changes to the reinstatement of retirement creditable service for the School Employees Retirement Plan (does not cover OPS employees).  Under current law, upon reemployment, a former school plan employee may seek a reinstatement of relinquished creditable service related to their retirement pension account. Relinquished creditable service occurs when a teacher leaves teaching or takes a teaching job in another state, and cashes out his/her contribution to the state’s retirement plan. In order to take a refund, the teacher must be vested, which occurs after five years of service.

When a school employee is rehired, he/she may seek a reinstatement of that relinquished service. Reinstatement occurs when the employee repays the refunded amount plus a statutorily set amount of interest. The interest rate charged increases if repayment occurs after three years of reemployment.

For example, if an employee works for six years and then is terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily, that employee may take a refund of six years of their cumulative employee contributions. Upon reemployment, the employee may repurchase those six years of service by paying the refunded amount, plus interest, to the School Employees Retirement System.  Repayment may occur any time prior to termination.

Under LB1042, an employee seeking reinstatement of relinquished service would be required to repay the retirement plan’s actuarially assumed rate of return (8%) for the repurchased service credit.

Originally, LB1042 would have required an employee seeking reinstatement of relinquished service to purchase service credit at the same rate that “airtime” service is purchased.  Airtime service credit occurs when an employee purchases service years beyond those years actually worked. That airtime rate is estimated to be five to six times greater than what is required under current law.

NSEA was instrumental in getting the airtime rate eliminated as initially drafted in the bill through an amendment adopted last week. The amendment does require that reinstatement of retirement creditable service and repayment occur within five years of reemployment.  School plan members who are currently employed and have not yet sought a reinstatement will have six years after the LB1042 change goes into effect.  The five-year time limit now in the bill is similar to the time limit currently utilized in the OPS retirement plan.

Prioritized Education-Related Bills

Priority bills for the 2014 Legislative Session have been selected. For the remainder of the session only priority bills that have advanced to General File will be scheduled for debate. Priority bills of interest to educators include:

In Committee:

LB145: (Brasch) Change valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land. MONITOR

LB670: (McCoy) Change property tax valuations of agricultural land and horticultural land. MONITOR

LB972: (Lautenbaugh) Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act (charter schools). OPPOSE

LB1097: (B. Harr) Change individual income tax brackets and rates and corporate income tax rates. OPPOSE

On General File:

LB682: (Scheer) Bracketed until April 17, 2014. Provide for formation of allied school systems as prescribed. OPPOSE

LB887: (Campbell) Failed to cease debate.  Adopt the Wellness in Nebraska Act. SUPPORT

On Select File:

LB276: (Nordquist) Change reimbursement provisions under the Early Intervention Act and require a medicaid state plan amendment. SUPPORT

LB1042: (Nordquist) Provide for repayments by school employees rejoining a retirement system. SUPPORT with Amendment

Awaiting Approval by Governor:

LB438: (Adams) Change the accountability system for schools and school districts under the Quality Education Accountability Act. SUPPORT

LB1067: (Hadley) Extend the sunset dates under certain tax incentive laws. MONITOR

Passed:

LB725: (Sullivan) Change student growth adjustment correction and local effort rate yield under the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act. SUPPORT

LB967: (Education Cmmt) Change provisions relating to state aid to schools and funding for early childhood education programs. SUPPORT IN PART (NSEA OPPOSED the provision in the bill that phases-out the Teacher Education Allowance. NSEA will work with the Education Committee to develop a replacement incentive program for teacher professional growth.)

LB986: (Revenue Cmmt) Change homestead exemption income limitations. MONITOR

LB987: (Revenue Cmmt) Adjust individual income tax brackets for inflation and exempt social security benefits from income taxation.  SUPPORT

LB1103: (Education Cmmt) Provide for a strategic planning process for education. SUPPORT

 A complete list of bills selected as priority bills is available here:

nebraskalegislature.gov/session/priority.php