Consequences of the midterms

Here’s a look at how this year’s election results could affect OPERS

By Christopher Collins, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Nov. 27, 2018 – It is often said that elections have consequences. But only time will tell whether the results on Election Day this November will impact OPERS and the public employees we represent.

The goal of the OPERS Government Relations team remains to establish and maintain working relationships with the members and staff of the Ohio General Assembly and Congress in order to best represent OPERS, the retirees, and the members who will rely on us for a secure retirement in the future.

The biggest change on Election Day for Congress was the transfer of authority in the U.S. House of Representatives from Republicans to Democrats. Key committees, such as the House Ways and Means Committee, will be led by a new chair in 2019.

Current Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has been one of the lead sponsors of legislation to reform the Windfall Elimination Provision, which impacts Social Security benefits for many Ohio public employees who have split careers between the public and private sectors.

Rep. Brady’s staff has been very receptive to input from OPERS on this issue. Fortunately, the presumed new chairman, Richard Neal (D-Mass.), is the joint sponsor of WEP reform legislation with Rep. Brady. We look forward to continuing to work on this issue with Rep. Neal and his staff.

In Ohio, the dynamics of OPERS’ federal advocacy should remain virtually unchanged. All but one federal officeholder was re-elected for a new term, allowing staff to maintain the positive relationships we have with our existing congressional delegation. Ohio’s only new congressman, Anthony Gonzalez, replaces Rep. Jim Renacci, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against returning Sen. Sherrod Brown.

We expect to continue to meet with our congressional delegation members both in Washington and in their district offices to provide them with the current information necessary to address OPERS’ most-pressing issues in the coming Congress.

Ohio state elections brought about many more changes on election night, as all of the statewide office holders were subject to term limits. Republican candidates won all of the statewide offices, including Mike DeWine for governor, David Yost for attorney general, and Robert Sprague for treasurer. These offices are important to OPERS since they have responsibilities relating to the system either through appointments to the Board of Trustees (governor and treasurer), providing legal representation (attorney general), or providing custodial banking services (treasurer).

Although they will be new to their roles, OPERS has had positive relationships with all of the incoming statewide officeholders in their previously elected roles.

In the Ohio General Assembly, there will be many new faces and some familiar faces in new places based on election results, coupled with term limits. There will be at least 28 new members of the 99-member Ohio House, and at least one new member of the 33-member Ohio Senate. In addition, some current House and Senate members will be in new roles after winning races to join the opposite chamber.

Heading into a new legislative session next year, we will use our strong working relationships with all members of the General Assembly and Congress to educate them about the value of the retirement system, be a conduit of information for legislators about OPERS’ legislative priorities, and help them better serve their constituents who are also members of our system.

Christopher Collins

Chris Collins is an assistant government relations officer at the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, advocating for our legislative agenda. Prior to joining the OPERS team, Chris was Ohio legislative director for the Service Employees International Union State Council for seven years.

Christopher Collins

Assistant Government Relations Officer

7 thoughts on “Consequences of the midterms

  • November 27, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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    Thank you for providing this update as I also will be affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision. I am heartened to hear the work that has been done will be able to continue and 2019 might be the year this is eliminated. We should not be punished for working and paying into social security.

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  • November 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm
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    My understanding of the Brady bill to reform WEP is that the most anyone will collect under it is $77 per month. I realize that some will say we should take what we can instead of hoping for pie in the sky that we will probably never get in light of the supposed strain on social security retirement benefits, but many of us lost hundreds of dollars a month from WEP.

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  • November 27, 2018 at 4:34 pm
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    Thanks for the up date.

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  • November 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
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    I am an employee who has both private and public retirement benefits. I have never understood why it was fair to be deprived of benefits I had earned in the private sector just because I also worked for a government. I don’t know what reforms Brady is working on, but it sure would be nice to reclaim some of those benefits!

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  • November 28, 2018 at 12:41 pm
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    Thanks for the update. I agree we should not be punished for working and paying into social security.

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  • November 28, 2018 at 12:57 pm
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    Brady (as head of ways and means) conducted hearings on WEP and it went nowhere. The issue has been around for years and all the information needed to make a decision has been available and in the public domain. If Brady was really serious about dealing with this inequity, something would have happened by now. He was able to fast-track the extreme corporate tax cuts but somehow cannot get WEP reform moving.

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