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NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, January 13, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“With the presidential inauguration just one week away, America’s attention is focused on our nation’s capital. NARFE looks forward to continuing to serve as a trusted, unbiased source of information for President-elect Trump and his administration. Our advocacy efforts will continue on behalf of the five million federal employees and annuitants as well as their spouses and survivors. NARFE will remain vigilant of any attacks on the federal community and continue it's aggressive lobbying in defense of the its members."

NARFE and Lawmakers Urge President-Elect to Reconsider Federal Hiring Freeze

With NARFE’s support, 106 lawmakers signed Rep. Stephen F. Lynch’s, D-MA, letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to reconsider implementing a hiring freeze on January 20. The President-elect announced his intention to freeze federal hiring in his “Contract with the American Voter” with the exception of the military, public safety officials and public health officers.

Citing a GAO report (the most recent on the subject), the letter noted that prior hiring freezes did not result in a smaller federal workforce and actually decreased efficiency, transparency and accountability. The letter also mentioned some of the 21st century challenges that an already stretched thin federal workforce will likely face.

A hiring freeze could hamper agency missions and prevent the best and brightest from entering public service. Detailed plans on a potential hiring freeze have not been released by Trump’s transition team. A copy of Rep. Lynch’s letter can be found here.

‘Uncharted Waters: Navigating the 115th Congress’ Webinar Recording Available

The 115th Congress just convened, and unprecedented threats to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees loom large. This week, NARFE’s legislative department hosted a webinar on the direct threats to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Thrift Savings Plan and the Postal Service, and how you can take action to protect what you’ve earned through a career in public service. If you were unable to watch the live webinar, you can join NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement and Deputy Director John Hatton via the archived video recording. Make sure you visit the NARFE website frequently to keep abreast of the issues facing the federal community during the 115th Congress, and be prepared to take action!

Register Today for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference!

Threats to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees have never been greater now that the 115th Congress has convened. We encourage all NARFE members who want to advocate for federal employee and retiree interests to attend the Legislative Training Conference, especially those who hold a NARFE leadership role. To learn more about the conference, join NARFE’s Grassroots Program Manager Molly Checksfield on Tuesday, January 17, at 2 p.m. ET for a webinar, “Preparing for NARFE’s 2017 Legislative Training Conference.” Checksfield will review the draft agenda and conference logistics so you can be fully prepared before heading to D.C.

This year’s conference will be held Sunday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 15, in Alexandria, VA, at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. It includes training sessions, presentations by national speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow NARFE grassroots activists. The first two days of the conference will prepare you for your March 15 meetings with your legislators on Capitol Hill. The full agenda, including speakers, is being updated as we finalize the program. For more information on the conference, including hotel information and fees, or to register for the conference, visit the NARFE website here. Questions? Contact the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org.

Follow the Governor, Extend an Invitation to Your Convention

State governors are delivering their annual State of the State Addresses before joint sessions of their legislatures. Be sure to watch live or later read these addresses to make sure you remain an informed voter in your state. Be sure to follow the gubernatorial elections and read one handicapper’s predictions for 2017 and 2018. NARFE members have been mobilizing in their states to build relationships and influence state legislation that affects NARFE members. Extending an invitation to your federation convention is one great way to build and foster those relationships.

Hotline to Return January 27

NARFE Headquarters will be closed Monday, January 16, and Friday, January 20, due to the federal holiday and the presidential inauguration. NARFE will be open between those dates. The Hotline will return to its regular schedule on January 27.

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, January 6, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

Happy New Year! The new year has ushered in the 115th Congress, and with it a host of new challenges and opportunities. NARFE is committed to protecting the earned benefits of active and retired federal employees, and our efforts on Capitol Hill will reflect this commitment. Now more than ever, we need NARFE members to make their voices heard. Along with Secretary/Treasurer Jon Dowie, the National Executive Board and the NARFE Headquarters staff, I wish you the best in 2017.

Holman Rule Returns to Congress

The House of Representatives has reinstated the Holman Rule, which had not been used since the 1980s. Under the Holman Rule, an amendment may be offered during floor debate on an appropriations bill to do any of the following: reduce the number of employees at a federal agency; reduce the salaries of those employees, or even one particular employee; or eliminate one particular federal position.

Prior to the vote, NARFE worked within the Federal-Postal Coalition to support an amendment offered by Reps. Tom Cole, R-OK, and Rob Bishop, R-UT, in a closed-door Republican Caucus meeting, to remove the Holman Rule from the rules package. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by voice vote.

The reinstatement of this rule could have major consequences for the federal workforce. Decisions that affect federal employees and federal programs could go into effect without the proper hearings or substantive debate. NARFE will closely monitor any potential use of this rule and any of its impacts.

Proposed Rule Could Save USPS billions

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a proposed rule that would change the amount that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) puts into the federal employee retirement fund. The rule would allow USPS to calculate its payment using assumptions of its workforce specifically, rather than the federal workforce as a whole.

The Postal Service has long argued that its payments have been too high because of the difference between the demographics of its workers and those of the federal workforce, mainly in salary growth and life expectancy. Multiple reports have shown that USPS has paid a surplus of billions of dollars into the retirement fund.

If implemented, the rule could save the Postal Service a substantial amount of money and would not impact Postal Service retiree pensions. Before becoming final, the proposal will be evaluated by stakeholders, who will have an opportunity to submit comments.

Locality Pay Tables Available

President Obama’s 2.1 percent average pay increase for current federal employees is now final. The new rates will be effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period of 2017. OPM released the 2017 General Schedule locality pay tables. Click here to view.

Register Now for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference!

Registration is now open for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference! Are you a newly appointed Congressional District Leader or chapter legislative officer and not sure how to fulfill this role? Are you a veteran legislative chair trying to get more of your members involved in grass-roots advocacy? Are you a NARFE member interested in learning more about NARFE’s legislative priorities and how you can take action? Then the Legislative Training Conference is for you!

The 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference will be held Sunday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 15, in Alexandria, VA. It includes training, national speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow NARFE grass-roots activists. The conference culminates in a visit to Capitol Hill, where you will use your new skills in meetings with your legislators. The full agenda, including speakers, will be made available in January, after the new Congress is sworn in. For more information on the conference, including hotel information and fees, or to register for the conference, visit the NARFE website here.

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, December 2, 2016

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“I testified this week before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations about the recent significant increases in Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) premiums. I expressed NARFE’s outrage over the increases and shared with the subcommittee some of the heartbreaking messages we received from fellow NARFE members. NARFE proposed a number of policy reforms, and is looking forward to working with Congress to create a more transparent and stable program.”

Medicare Hold Harmless Bill Introduced. Take Action!

On December 2, legislation was introduced to prevent a disproportionately large increase in the 2017 Medicare Part B premiums for those not held harmless. H.R. 6428 was introduced in the House by Rep. Dina Titus, D-NV, and would limit premium increases for individuals whose premiums are not paid directly from a Social Security benefit.

Under the legislation, Part B premium increases would be limited to $4 for those who are not held harmless and not subject to higher premiums due to higher incomes (who are subject to a 10 percent increase, as previously announced). For those paying the standard premium, their premiums would rise from $121.80 per month to $125.80. The $4 increase is the same as the average increase in Medicare Part B premiums for those held harmless.

H.R. 6428 was introduced with 34 original cosponsors, a number we seek to grow. Please take a moment to call your members of Congress and ask for their support. You can call the U.S. Capitol using NARFE’s toll-free number 1-866-220-0044, and ask to be connected to your representative. Now is the time to take action and make your voice heard!

Long Term Care Congressional Hearing

On November 30, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen testified before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations about the recent premium increases in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). Thissen joined representatives from the John Hancock Life & Health Insurance Company, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other insurance policy experts to detail the reasons behind the steep premium increases and to propose policy fixes to the program.

In his testimony, Thissen stated: “It is incumbent on this subcommittee to support real reforms that provide Americans with affordable, reliable options. Enrollees should not bear the risk when insurance companies and actuaries make mistakes, and they should have options available to plan for their future needs.” NARFE proposed a number of policy options to ensure price stability and affordability and will continue to hold Congress and OPM accountable.

During the hearing, several lawmakers questioned representatives from John Hancock and OPM and expressed outrage over the increases. Ranking member Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, vowed to bring OPM representatives back before the committee to provide definitive plans to fix the program. NARFE looks forward to working with stakeholders and lawmakers to bring premium stability to FLTCIP.

A video recording of the hearing, along with the written testimony of the witnesses, is available here. Be sure to read NARFE’s written testimony on the hearing.

2017 Alternative Plan for Locality Pay

On November 29, President Obama submitted an alternative locality pay plan for the January 2017 pay adjustments. The submitted plan adheres to the President’s proposed 1.6 percent pay increase for 2017, and incorporates an average 0.6 percent locality pay increase on top of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase.

The Office of Personnel Management will post the actual 2017 pay tables in late December, following the President’s executive order on pay adjustments. The pay adjustments will go into effect during the first pay period of the new year.

NARFE Tops $12 Million Alzheimer’s Fundraising Goal

NARFE members now have raised more than $12 million in cumulative donations for the NARFE-Alzheimer’s Research Fund, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. This is an incredible accomplishment and a testament to NARFE members’ dedication to end this horrible disease. A new goal was set during the August 2016 NARFE National Convention to reach a cumulative total of $13 million in 2018. Thank you to all those who have donated. Together, we can find a cure.

For those interested, The Hill this week gathered policymakers, health officials, patient advocates and medical experts for “Race Against Time: Overcoming Alzheimer’s by 2025,” a gathering to discuss America’s Alzheimer’s goals. You can watch the gathering and listen to the featured speakers by going here.

Open Season Reminder

The 2016 Federal Benefits Open Season is fast approaching its December 12 deadline. Open Season is an opportunity for federal employees to enroll in or make changes within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) and the Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program. Federal retirees and survivor annuitants can change their FEHBP health care plans as well as enroll in or change a FEDVIP plan during Open Season. For more information or to explore options, please visit OPM’s website.

Register Now for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference!

Registration is now open for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference! Are you a newly appointed Congressional District Leader or chapter legislative officer and not sure how to fulfill this role? Are you a veteran legislative chair trying to get more of your members involved in grass-roots advocacy? Are you a NARFE member interested in learning more about NARFE’s legislative priorities and how you can take action? Then the Legislative Training Conference is for you!

The 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference will be held Sunday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 15, in Alexandria, VA. It includes training, national speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow NARFE grass-roots activists. The conference culminates in a visit to Capitol Hill, where you will use your new skills in meetings with your legislators. The full agenda, including speakers, will be made available in January, after the new Congress is sworn in. For more information on the conference, including hotel information and fees, or to register for the conference, visit the NARFE website here.

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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