September 24, 2017

HB 17-1176: Modifying PERA Service After Retirement Provisions to Benefit Rural Areas

On February 6, 2017, Rep. Jon Becker and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg introduced HB 17-1176, “Concerning an Extension of the Employment after Retirement Limitations for Retirees of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association Employed by a Rural School District After Retirement.”

Current law allows a service retiree of any division of the public employees’ retirement association (PERA) to work for a PERA employer for limited periods and to receive a salary without reduction in benefits under certain circumstances. Several rural school districts in the state have recently experienced a shortage of teachers, school bus drivers, and school food services cooks and would ideally address the shortages by hiring service retirees. PERA’s employment after retirement provisions, including the limitation on the number of days in a calendar year that a service retiree may work for a PERA employer without a reduction in benefits, make it difficult for school districts to fill their vacancies with retired teachers, school bus drivers, and school food services cooks.

The bill modifies the current PERA employment after retirement provisions for certain retirees hired by an employer in the school division if:

  • The employer that hires the service retiree is a rural school district as determined by the department of education based on certain criteria and the school district enrolls 6,500 students or fewer in kindergarten through 12th grade;
  • The school district hires the service retiree for the purpose of providing classroom instruction or school bus transportation to students enrolled by the district or for the purpose of being a school food services cook; and
  • The school district determines that there is a critical shortage of qualified teachers, school bus drivers, or school food services cooks, as applicable, and that the service retiree has specific experience, skills, or qualifications that would benefit the district.

A service retiree who is a teacher, a school bus driver, or a school food services cook and who is hired by an employer in the school division that satisfies the criteria above may receive salary without a reduction in benefits for any length of employment in a calendar year if the service retiree has not worked for any PERA employer during the month of the effective date of retirement.

In addition, the bill requires the employer that hires the service retiree to provide full payment of all PERA employer contributions, disbursements, and working retiree contributions.

A service retiree may not receive salary without reduction in benefits and without limitation in a calendar year for more than 6 consecutive years.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Finance and Appropriations committees.

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