PERS changes studied by a Senate committee

Mar 3, 2017

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo).
Credit ND Legislature

ND United president Nick Archuleta.
Credit ND United

A Senate committee is looking at a proposal to change the governance of the Public Employees Retirement System.

As it is now, a board oversees the system. That board is also responsible for picking a health insurance carrier for all state workers and retirees.  The House made changes in that structure – so that the current Board would become an advisory board, with the director of PERS being appointed by the Governor, and the Legislature’s Employee Benefits Committee having more of an oversight role.

The changes are being proposed by House Majority Leader Al Carlson. He told the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee he didn’t like it when the PERS Board chose Sanford Health over Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and presented the Legislature with an additional $21 million bill for insurance.

"As a legislator, I take very seriously the jobs we're given,'" Carlson told the Committee. "And that's to pass laws and appropriate money. Nobody else can do that except us."

A group representing state employees doesn’t like the changes in governance.

"It takes the voice of the public employee who serves on the PERS board and completely negates it," said ND United president Nick Archuleta in an interview. "It turns that whole board into an advisory board, and puts the full weight and responsibility for running the plan into the Governor's office. That's an issue."

Archuleta said he also objects to the House passing this wholesale change in governance – without a public hearing. It was offered as an amendment to the bill during the House Appropriations Committee’s deliberations.

The Senate committee has not taken any action.

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