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AB-2967 Public Employees’ Retirement System: contracting agencies: exclusion from membership. (2019-2020)

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Date Published: 06/29/2020 09:00 PM
AB2967:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 29, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 04, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2967


Introduced by Assembly Member O’Donnell

February 21, 2020


An act to amend Section 22820 Sections 20460 and 20502 of the Government Code, relating to public employee benefits. employees’ retirement.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2967, as amended, O’Donnell. Public Employees’ Medical and Hospital Care Act: firefighters and public safety officers. Retirement System: contracting agencies: exclusion from membership.
Existing law, the Public Employees’ Retirement Law (PERL), establishes the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), which provides a defined benefit to members of the system, based on final compensation, credited service, and age at retirement, subject to certain variations. PERS is administered by the Board of Administration of the Public Employees’ Retirement System.
PERL authorizes a public agency to contract to make all or part of its employees members of PERS, subject to specified conditions, and requires membership in PERS to be compulsory for all employees included under a contract. Existing law prohibits these contracts from providing for the exclusion of some, but not all, firefighters and specified public safety officers. With regard to other groups of employees, existing law requires that they be based on general categories, such as departments or duties, and not on individual employees.
This bill would delete provisions of PERL that generally authorize a public agency contracting with PERS to make all or part of its employees members of the system. The bill would generally prohibit exclusions of groups of employees from being made by amendment of a public agency contract with PERS. The bill would apply these provisions to contracts entered into, amended, or extended on and after January 1, 2020.

Existing law, the Public Employees’ Medical and Hospital Care Act, which is administered by the Board of Administration of the Public Employees’ Retirement System, governs the funding and provision of postemployment health care benefits for eligible retired public employees and their beneficiaries. The act deems a surviving spouse or other eligible family member of certain firefighters or peace officers, whose deaths occur as a result of injury or disease arising out of their official duties, to be an annuitant, as specified, for purposes of enrollment in a health benefit plan, if the spouse or family member is uninsured. Existing law requires the employer of the deceased firefighter or peace officer to notify the board within 10 business days of the death of the employee, among other things, if that spouse or family member may be eligible for enrollment.

This bill would reduce the period within which an employer is to provide notice to the board, as described above, to within 7 calendar days.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 20460 of the Government Code is amended to read:

20460.
 (a) Any public agency may participate in and make all or part of its employees members of this system by contract entered into between its governing body and the board pursuant to this part. However, a public agency may shall not enter into the contract within three years of termination of a previous contract for participation.
(b) The changes to this section made by the act adding this subdivision shall apply to a contract entered into, amended, or extended on and after January 1, 2020.

SEC. 2.

 Section 20502 of the Government Code is amended to read:

20502.
 (a) The initial contract shall include in this system all firefighters, police officers, county peace officers, local sheriffs, and other employees of the contracting agency, except as exclusions in addition to the exclusions applicable to state employees may be agreed to by the agency and the board. The contract shall not provide for the exclusion of some, but not all, firefighters, police officers, county peace officers, or local sheriffs. The exclusions of employees, other than firefighters, police officers, county peace officers, or local sheriffs, shall be based on groups of employees such as departments or duties, and not on individual employees. The exclusions of groups may shall not be made by amendments to contracts, with respect to future entrants into the group. The board may disapprove the exclusion of a group, if in its opinion the exclusion adversely affects the interest of this system. contracts. Membership in this system is compulsory for all employees included under a contract. This section shall not be construed to supersede Sections 20303 and 20305.
(b) The changes to this section made by the act adding this subdivision shall apply to a contract entered into, amended, or extended on and after January 1, 2020.

SECTION 1.Section 22820 of the Government Code is amended to read:
22820.

(a)Upon the death, on or after January 1, 2002, of a firefighter employed by a county, city, city and county, district, or other political subdivision of the state, a firefighter employed by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, a firefighter employed by the federal government who was a resident of this state and whose regular duty assignment was to perform firefighting services within this state, or a peace officer as defined in Section 830.1, 830.2, 830.3, 830.31, 830.32, 830.33, 830.34, 830.35, 830.36, 830.37, 830.38, 830.39, 830.4, 830.5, 830.55, or 830.6 of the Penal Code, if the death occurred as a result of injury or disease arising out of and in the course of their official duties, the surviving spouse or other eligible family member of the deceased firefighter or peace officer, if uninsured, is deemed to be an annuitant under Section 22760 for purposes of enrollment. All eligible family members of the deceased firefighter or peace officer who are uninsured may enroll in a health benefit plan of the surviving spouse’s choice. However, an unmarried child of the surviving spouse is not eligible to enroll in a health benefit plan under this section if the child was not a family member under Section 22775 and regulations pertinent thereto prior to the firefighter’s or peace officer’s date of death. The employer of the deceased firefighter or peace officer shall notify the board within 7 calendar days of the death of the employee and any updated contact information of the surviving spouse or family member if that spouse or family member may be eligible for enrollment in a health benefit plan under this section.

(b)Upon notification, the board shall promptly determine eligibility and shall forward to the eligible spouse or family member the materials necessary for enrollment. In the event of a dispute regarding whether a firefighter’s or peace officer’s death occurred as a result of injury or disease arising out of and in the course of their official duties as required under subdivision (a), that dispute shall be determined by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, subject to the same procedures and standards applicable to hearings relating to claims for workers’ compensation benefits. The jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board under this section is limited to the sole issue of industrial causation and this section does not authorize the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to award costs against the system.

(c)(1)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and except as otherwise provided in subdivision (d), the state shall pay the employer contribution required for enrollment under this part for the uninsured surviving spouse of a deceased firefighter or peace officer for life, and the other uninsured eligible family members of a deceased firefighter or peace officer, provided the family member meets the eligibility requirements of Section 22775 and regulations pertinent thereto.

(2)The contribution payable by the state for each uninsured surviving spouse and other uninsured eligible family members shall be adjusted annually and be equal to the amount specified in Section 22871.

(3)The state’s contribution under this section shall commence on the effective date of enrollment of the uninsured surviving spouse or other uninsured eligible family members. The contribution of each surviving spouse and eligible family member shall be the total cost per month of the benefit coverage afforded the person under the plan less the portion contributed by the state pursuant to this section.

(d)The cancellation of coverage by an annuitant, as defined in this section, shall be final without option to reenroll, unless coverage is canceled because of enrollment in an insurance plan from another source.

(e)For purposes of this section, “surviving spouse” means a spouse who was married to the deceased firefighter or peace officer on the deceased’s date of death and either was married for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the date of death or was married to the deceased prior to the date the deceased firefighter or peace officer sustained the injury or disease resulting in death.

(f)For purposes of this section, “uninsured” means that the surviving spouse is not enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan under which the employer contribution covers 100 percent of the cost of health care premiums.

(g)The board has no duty to identify, locate, or notify any surviving spouse or eligible family member who may be or may become eligible for benefits under this section.