One thing's for certain--happenings at the Oklahoma State Capitol can change quickly--some days it's hard to keep up. Agendas change, schedules change, and sometimes even people's minds change. 

A few days ago I alerted you that our COLA bill was scheduled to be heard in committee on Tuesday. Late yesterday afternoon, the agenda was "officially" posted and the COLA bill was NOT on the agenda.  

On the agenda is House Bill 1340, a carryover bill from last year. This bill would provide a 2% stipend, based on your annual benefit, and capped at $750. Now if your annual benefit is $20,000, that would mean a stipend of $400. Not much when you consider how much inflation has risen in the past 10 years. Last year alone, the HealthChoice High premium went up around $600.  

What I find frustrating, is that you also must be retired at least 3 years to receive the stipend. The inflation rate in 2017 was 2%. Another frustration is that the stipend is capped, if you're fortunate enough to have a large pension, based on the funded ratio of your system. Based on the most recent actuarial reports, teachers and firefighters are capped at $750, while the other systems are capped at $1000 and $1250.  

If you would like to read the bill follow this link: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok... 

The previous email also gave you a list of representatives to call--those are the members of the Banking and Business Committee. A complete list of Oklahoma Representatives and State Senators is printed in your OREA News Bulletin that you should be receiving in the mail within the next week. You can also find their contact information at okhouse.gov and oksenate.gov

This week the OREA Board of Directors voted to endorse the REVENUE MEASURES ONLY in the Step-Up Oklahoma Plan. In addition, the board supports the $5,000 teacher pay raise bill. The board is cautious about the reform measures of the package. As the cliche' goes, "The devil is in the details." Please read more about the plan at stepupoklahoma.com 

All of our members are invited to the Capitol on Monday, February 12th. There will be a buzz of activity around the Step-Up Plan and the House is scheduled to hear related bills. The Step-Up Plan isn't in one big piece of legislation, but several, and the measures are being considered individually. This is a good thing, even though it's all happening quite quickly, and one has to wonder if this ultra-speedy process gives time for proper debate and compromise. If you have questions, as always, please do not hesitate to write or call us.  

We are still accepting your recipes and related stories for the OREA Cookbook! The editing phase has begun, and we would love for all areas of the state to be represented. So please, send us those favorites! 

Have a great weekend, and thank you all for your membership!

Sabra Tucker
Executive Director

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