On May 29, 2017, both the House and the Senate adjourned “Sine Die,” officially ending the 85th Regular Legislative Session. Before adjourning, the Senate elected Senator Robert Nichols as President Pro Tempore for the interim period, making him third in line to the Governorship. Governor Greg Abbott has until June 18 to consider bills that were passed. The Governor can sign, veto, or allow the bills to go into effect without his signature. A number of bills were passed by the Legislature that affect state and local pension plans. Please see the bill list for the results of the bills that TMRS tracked during the 85th Legislative Session.
The 85th Legislative Session is now in its final month and is moving closer toward “sine die” (session’s end) on May 29, 2017. The House Pensions Committee and the Senate State Affairs Committee have concluded hearing most pension bills from their own chambers and are now focusing on the bills passed by the other chamber. For TMRS, the three bills of highest interest are still viable, although time is getting short. Two important procedural deadlines will occur in the next week and a half that affect House bills. To be viable, House bills must be reported out of the House Committee to which they were referred by May 9. By May 12, all House bills must be voted out of the House. See the bill list for the status of bills TMRS is tracking.
The period for filing bills other than those that are emergency or local in nature ended on Friday, March 10, 2017. Three bills have been filed that affect the TMRS Act. In addition, a number of bills have been filed that affect TMRS and other pension systems. A summary of these bills is available here. The Senate State Affairs Committee, the House Pensions Committee, and other oversight committees are now meeting to consider bills. The schedules for upcoming Senate hearings and House hearings are posted and regularly updated on the web.
The Texas Legislature convened for the 85th Regular Legislative Session on January 10, 2017. Regular sessions occur in each odd-numbered year and run for 140 calendar days. A calendar of session milestones is available on the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s website. Representative Joe Straus III was reelected Speaker of the House for the 85th Legislature. In the Senate, the presiding officer is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
The Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives each has its own operating rules and deadlines for addressing legislation (bills) filed by its members. Each chamber uses committees made up of its membership to hear legislation and consider passage to the full House or Senate for the full body’s deliberation. The committees with jurisdiction over TMRS are the Senate State Affairs Committee and the House Pensions Committee. Appointments to these two committees and the other standing committees have been made. The Senate State Affairs Committee is chaired by Senator Joan Huffman, while the House Pensions Committee is chaired by Representative Dan Flynn.
Regarding legislation, the TMRS Board of Trustees determined that there are no plan changes that are necessary and has not endorsed any legislative proposals for this session. However, legislation has been filed that affects TMRS and other retirement systems. A list of these bills is available at the link on the right under Resources, and will be updated as changes occur.
Interim Reports and Bill Filing. The 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature begins on January 10, 2017. In preparation for the Session, the two committees that oversee the 93 public pension systems in Texas release reports on the study charges assigned during the Interim period. Both the Senate Committee on State Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Pensions have released their interim reports (links at right). Beginning November 14, 2016, legislators were able to start pre-filing legislation (60 days before the session begins). TMRS staff is currently reviewing bills that have been pre-filed to identify those that may affect TMRS.
Board Decisions. At the TMRS Board Meeting held on December 8-9, the Board made three important legislative decisions. They appointed a new Legislative Committee that was given authority to represent the Board’s positions on legislative and regulatory matters. Board Chair Jim Parrish and Vice Chair Bill Philibert were appointed to be the Committee Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, for 2017. At an earlier meeting, in October, the Board had voted to pursue return to work legislation for the 85th Session. The Board received a presentation on a draft return to work bill at its December meeting, and after discussion, voted not to pursue the legislation during the 85th Legislative Session. The Board also adopted a Resolution that reflects its position on any legislation or regulations that may affect TMRS.
Updated 4/29/2016. The House Pensions Committee held hearings on March 30 and April 13, 2016 to address its interim charges, which included their general oversight charge over Texas’ pension systems. TMRS provided testimony on March 30 at the request of Committee Chairman Dan Flynn. The video transcripts for these hearings are available here. The Senate State Affairs Committee has also held hearings to address its interim charges involving the Employees Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System. None of the interim charges issued by Lt. Governor Patrick directly affect TMRS. Upcoming Senate Committee hearings are available here.
Updated 11/12/2015. The Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have released their interim charges to the Senate and House standing committees. The Senate State Affairs Committee which has oversight responsibility over public pension systems, did not receive any specific pension charges. However, under a general monitoring charge they will be reviewing the legislative changes made to the Employees Retirement System and Teacher Retirement System of Texas the past two sessions. The State Affairs Committee charges are available on The Texas Senate website. In addition, the Senate Finance Committee will be looking at state debt and state pension liabilities. The Finance Committee charges are also available online.
In the House, there aren’t any charges specific to TMRS. However, the House Pensions Committee will study a number of pension issues that relate to investment goals, rates of return, actuarial soundness, one-time funding methods, and the impact of GASB 67 & 68 on the state’s pension systems. In addition, the House Select Committee on State and Federal Powers was given a charge to review state statutes relating to restricting investment in foreign nations. A full list of all House Committee charges are available on the Texas House of Representatives website.