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NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, March 24, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“I want to personally thank all those who attended the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference. It was a wonderful gathering of NARFE members learning how to be powerful advocates. That training was put to quick use when more than 300 NARFE advocates made their way to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators about NARFE’s top priorities. As the federal budget season begins, we need all members to be advocates and to speak out against the threats facing the federal community. It is my hope that those who attended the conference will share their knowledge with the membership at large and that everyone will join in the fight to protect our earned pay and benefits.”

Postal Reform Bill Approved by House Oversight Committee

On March 16, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a markup and ultimately approved the Postal Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756, without addressing the concerns of the 76,000 postal retirees who would be forced to enroll in Medicare under the bill. NARFE opposes this bill on the grounds that it would force current postal retirees onto Medicare in order to keep their federal health insurance coverage. Changing retirement benefits after retirement sets a terrible precedent, and all members of the federal community should be alarmed.

NARFE has proposed a simple alternative – allow those 76,000 retirees, who automatically would be enrolled in Medicare, a small window of opportunity to opt out. An opt-out period would allow postal retirees to maintain choice when it comes to their earned health benefits, crucial for those who are living on fixed incomes and who have previously declined Medicare. Under this legislation, postal retirees who are not currently enrolled in Medicare would face an additional $134 per month or more ($1,600 per year) in premiums. While the Postal Service stands to financially benefit from this enrollment, the cost to Medicare is upward of $8 billion.

The details and a recording of the markup can be found here. Follow the latest developments impacting postal reform here.

NARFE strongly urges its members to contact their legislators and ask them to oppose the Postal Reform Act of 2017 in its current form. Remember, this bill sets a dangerous precedent for ALL federal retirees. A letter can easily be sent by going to the NARFE Legislative Action Center here.

2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference a Success!

The 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference brought more than 300 NARFE members from across the country to Alexandria, VA, where they learned how to become powerful advocates for the federal community. The four-day event included advocacy training sessions, congressional speakers and updates on legislative developments. Participants capped off the conference by taking their message to Capitol Hill in meetings with their legislators and staff.

Thank you to all those who attended. We hope you enjoyed your time at the conference, and we encourage you to share the many advocacy tools that you learned with your fellow NARFE members. For those interested, presentations from the conference can be found here.

If you met with your legislator or their staff, please be sure to send them a thank you note. A sample note can be found here. If you haven’t done so already, let the NARFE Legislative Department know how your meetings went by filling out this brief survey. We hope to see you all at the next training conference in 2019! Look for details in the NARFE magazine next year.

President Trump Releases First Budget Proposal

President Trump recently released his first budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. This budget, referred to as the “skinny” budget, lays out a set of priorities for federal programs and sets the level of discretionary funding requested for each department. A copy of the president’s budget is available here.

This budget likely will not be implemented, as both the House and the Senate will submit their own FY 2018 budget proposals. Many in Congress on both sides of the aisle have called the skinny budget “dead on arrival.” The full, detailed version of the president’s budget is expected to be made available in mid-May, according to administration officials. NARFE will monitor the budget process and keep any eye on any threats to the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

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NARFE Headquarters, March 10, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“We are only two days away from the beginning of the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference with 300 NARFE members from across the country coming to Washington to learn how to advocate on behalf of the federal community. NARFE members will be informed about the issues and learn how to become an effective voice for all those fighting to protect their earned pay and benefits. On Wednesday, hundreds of trained and knowledgeable NARFE members will take to Capitol Hill to speak personally with their legislators and staff. I look forward to personally meeting all those who are traveling to our nation’s capital to help protect the earned pay and benefits of our nation’s federal employees and retirees.”

Bills Introduced Regarding the Use of Official Time

This week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed H.R. 1293, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-FL, requiring the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to submit an annual report to Congress that details the use of official time by federal employees. Official time is authorized time for federal employee union representatives to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees while working for their employing agency.

This bill would require OPM to detail the total amount of official time granted to employees, the average amount of time expended per bargaining unit employee and the specific types of activities or purposes for which official time was granted. It also would require OPM to report the number of employees granted official time, and the number of employees who spent all their time on union business. Finally, the bill would task OPM with calculating the total compensation afforded to employees on official time and a description of the space designated for official time work to be conducted.

Another bill, the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364), introduced by Rep. Jody Hice, R-GA, also passed the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Under the bill, federal employees would not receive credit to their retirement pay on days principally used (at least 80 percent) for official time. This provision would begin once an employee has exceeded 365 days considered as official time.

NARFE takes no position on these bills, but will continue to monitor their movement and that of similar bills. The misleading rhetoric regarding official time and the federal workforce that was presented during the markup could impact issues important to NARFE in the future.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Hotline to Return March 24

Due to the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference, there will be no Hotline next Friday. The Hotline will return to its regular schedule on March 24.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to March 10, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, March 3, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“This week, I was honored to join Rep. John Garamendi at a press conference introducing the CPI-E Act of 2017. For too long, retirees have faced a cost-of-living adjustment that is calculated inaccurately. A move to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly to determine COLAs is a step in the right direction and I urge NARFE members to write their legislators in support of this bill. It is high time we implement this simple fix to a large problem for retirees.”

Introduced to Change COLA Calculation

This week, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen joined Rep. John Garamendi, D-CA, at a press conference introducing the CPI-E Act of 2017 (H.R. 1251). This bill would require the use of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) instead of the current Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) when determining annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security, federal annuities and veterans’ benefits. NARFE applauds the introduction of this bill.

current COLA calculation fails to accurately measure seniors’ spending, especially in the area of health care. In 2016, health care inflation was 4.1 percent, while the CPI-W indicated the average price of consumer goods increased only 0.3 percent. For those over the age of 62, 12 percent of their spending goes toward health care, on average, while the general population spends just 5 percent.

In a statement at the press conference, Thissen said, “The fact that we do not use the CPI-E already is shocking. Instead, cost-of-living adjustments for seniors collecting Social Security and federal civilian or military retirement benefits are based on the costs experienced by ‘urban wage earners and clerical workers.’ They are not based on the costs experienced by retired individuals.” You can read Thissen’s full remarks here.

The bill currently has 24 cosponsors and has been submitted to multiple House committees for consideration. NARFE urges its members to send a letter to their legislators asking them to cosponsor the legislation. Use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to send a letter.

GPO and WEP Full Repeal Bill Introduced

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, introduced the Social Security Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 1205), a bill that would repeal both the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). NARFE has long opposed these unfair penalties and supports repeal of both provisions.

The GPO prevents federal retirees who receive a government annuity based on their own work in employment not covered by Social Security from collecting full Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work. In this situation, their earned Social Security spousal or survivor benefits are reduced by two-thirds of their non-Social Security-covered annuity.

The WEP greatly reduces the Social Security benefit of federal retirees who worked in Social Security-covered employment and who also receive an annuity based on their non-Social Security-covered government job.

More information on the bill, including its 84 cosponsors, can be found here. A letter urging your representative to cosponsor this bill can be found in the Action Center.

DOL Proposes Delay to the Fiduciary Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule to extend by 60 days the applicability date for defining who is a “fiduciary” when providing retirement investment advice, delaying the full implementation of the “conflict of interest” or “fiduciary” rule. Last month, President Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Labor Department to review the rule to determine whether it should be rescinded or revised.

The fiduciary rule requires investment advisers to put their clients’ best interests first when giving investment advice. NARFE supported the rule and is deeply disappointed by the president’s action. Read NARFE’s full statement in support of the fiduciary rule here.

The applicability date for defining who is considered a “fiduciary” was slated for April 10, 2017. The proposed rule would push that date back to June 9, 2017. This is one of the first steps in the process that could lead to the demise of the rule.

Before the proposed rule becomes final, DOL must engage in a “notice and comment” period, allowing the public to express its views on the action. NARFE members are encouraged to write a formal comment to DOL urging them to oppose any delay in the applicability date of the fiduciary rule. A comment can be easily made by going here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to March 3, 2017

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