Bills back before Pension/Benefit panel receive same verdict as previously

TRENTON –The Pension and Benefits Review Commission on Friday revisited four bills it previously had recommended the Legislature not enact.

The commission – an advisory body – again turned thumbs down on all four.

A272: This bill seeks to address a 2007 law that requires appointees to government posts to participate in the Defined Contribution Retirement Program and makes them ineligible for the Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Under that law, individuals who were members of PERS prior to July 1, 2007, and continuously thereafter, were exempt from this requirement.

This bill would remove this exemption, make it retroactive to July 1, 2007, the effective date of the law, and the affected employees would have to withdraw from PERS and transfer to the Defined Contribution Retirement Program.

Commission members had a problem, for example, with saying to those with active PERS accounts that they can’t be in PERS anymore.

Commission member Alfred Weller said that “It sounds wrong to change in midstream, taking something away without compensation.”

This bill has been introduced since 2008.

Sponsors include 2nd District Republican Assemblymen Chris Brown and John Amodeo.

A274:  This bill provides that no appointee to a state commission or authority who makes less than $20,000 and works fewer than 35 hours a week will be eligible for membership in the Public Employees’ Retirement System or for health care benefits.

This is another bill dating to 2008 that hasn’t been given a committee hearing in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

The prime sponsor is John Amodeo, (R-2), Northfield.

Among other things, commission members expressed reservations about affecting people who were “grandfathered’’ by previous changes to the pension system.

A1927: This bill changes the criteria for eligibility for membership and service credit in the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Public Employees’ Retirement System to annual compensation of $18,000 or more and 30 or more hours of work per week.

Those who don’t meet that criteria would not be eligible to become a member of those retirement systems. 

These new criteria would apply also to persons who have TPAF or PERS membership who commence any employment with compensation that does not meet those levels after any break in active service.

Currently, persons with annual compensation of $500 or more are eligible for membership and service credit in TPAF.  The compensation threshold for PERS is $1,500.  TPAF and PERS have no membership criteria related to hours of work.

The prime sponsor is Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, (R-11), Freehold.

Commission members said this bill would appear to be outdated, addressing situations already addressed in pension reform.

A2214: This bill requires coverage for dental composite restorations at the basic service percentage level of the usual fee under dental plan contracts.

The same coverage would be required under all health benefits plans providing dental expense benefits issued by health insurance carriers, such as health service corporations, individual and group health insurer, health maintenance organizations, the State Health Benefits Plan, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Plan. 

It would also require the same coverage under the medical expense benefits portion of basic and standard private passenger automobile insurance policies, and, finally, under contracts for health care services under the Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare Programs and the fee-for-service Medicaid program.

This bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, (D-15), Trenton, and dates to 2008.  It has not been granted a committee hearing.

The commission was told that this bill concerns the actual material used to fill cavities, and would increase costs to employers as well as usurp authority of the benefit plan design committee empaneled to consider such situations.

  Bills back before Pension/Benefit panel receive same verdict as previously