OPERS conducts issues advocacy at both state and federal levels
Members of the OPERS Government Relations team include Gordon Gatien (left), Anthony Tedesco-Nichols, Christopher Collins and Matthew Overturf. Not pictured: Debbie McCarthy.
Jan. 25, 2017 — The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System was created in state law back in 1935. Today, OPERS’ ability to provide a pension, health care coverage, disability benefits and all of the other functions we perform is a result of changes made over the past 82 years in both state and federal law.
That’s why the OPERS Government Relations team plays an important role in preserving your retirement system. We work closely with state and federal lawmakers, educating them and advocating to them for the best interests of the system and its members.
We do this in multiple ways. It begins by building and maintaining relationships with legislators and stakeholder groups who have interest in the retirement system. Through those relationships we share information about the system, monitor pension related legislation and update and advise internal staff about legislative and stakeholder activities.
One vital component of this work is being able to connect our experts within the organization with key decision makers to help them act in the best interest of the retirement system.
Following the guidance of the OPERS Board of Trustees, we work with internal staff on ways to strengthen the retirement system over the long term. In collaboration with other OPERS staff, we help turn ideas into workable legislative proposals. We then assist in crafting the messages to help explain the need for change.
There are a variety of forums and tools the Government Relations staff uses to get the message out to multiple audiences. They include one-on-one meetings, informal conversations, legislative hearings and public stakeholder meetings. In addition, we provide written summaries and analyses of relevant legislation, draft testimony, letters and legislative alerts, and we make presentations to groups about OPERS-related issues.
One of our goals is to give people outside of the retirement system a clearer picture of how OPERS is able to provide a secure retirement to our members. We also want lawmakers to understand how their decisions will impact our operations.
Lastly, there are times when Government Relations urges our members and retirees to reach out to their elected officials to help us advocate on important legislative issues. OPERS Government Relations staff works to alert members and retirees at these times about how to communicate with those lawmakers who we need to act.
Through our advocacy, OPERS Government Relations staff strives to protect your secure retirement. We do that by encouraging the adoption of legislation to benefit the long-term solvency of the fund while defending against proposals that would be harmful to the system.