Bureau Of National Affairs
Volume 02 Number 82
Pension & Benefit Briefs
RECENT PENSION & BENEFIT
NEWS DEVELOPMENTS IN BRIEF
WASHINGTON (BNA) –
ULLICO ADDS $23 MILLION IN PENSION FUND ASSETS:
Pension funds in California and Washington, D.C., have turned over a total of $23 million in assets to Union Labor Life Insurance Co. for investment in various funds, ULLICO reported Nov. 20. Two of the three plans invested a total of $15 million with Mortgage Separate Account J, the J FOR JOBS Fund, a commingled, open-ended mortgage fund. All mortgage investments in the portfolio are for new construction or extensive renovation projects that will be exclusively union built. The third plan invested $8 million with Separate Account E, a commingled small cap value equity fund, ULLICO said in a news release.
BILL WOULD REPEAL MANDATORY IRA WITHDRAWAL DATE: Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) introduced Nov. 14 a bill (HR 3079) that would eliminate the mandatory beginning withdrawal date for individual retirement accounts. Under current law, taxpayers must begin receiving distributions from IRAs at age 70 1/2. In a news release, Saxton called this tax code requirement an "anti-savings" provision. The government should be in the business of encouraging private savings, Saxton said, rather than sending a message that the Internal Revenue Service's "insatiable appetite for collecting taxes takes precedent over a senior's right to save." The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
MOST PUBLIC PLANS USE SAFEGUARDS, PRI SAYS: Most public pension plans have some type of guarantee mechanism aimed at preserving the pensions of state and local government workers, according to an analysis by an Alexandria, Va.-based research organization. Results of the analysis by the Public Retirement Institute, released Nov. 21, show that 83 percent of public plans have some sort of safeguard mechanism for benefits promised to current employees. PRI studied responses from 328 public plans and found that of the 272 plans with assurances in place, 156 plans' safeguards were provided through state statutes. Other documents aimed at protecting benefits of state and local government workers included state constitutions, contract law, and court orders. Narrowing the focus to state pension plans, 41 states provide such benefit safeguards through either the state constitution or state statute or both. PRI was formed in July to address matters relating to the public pension industry. For more information on the analysis, contact PRI at (703) 739-5860.
NAM NAMES BOYD AS LOBBYIST ON LABOR ISSUES: The National Association of Manufacturers announced Nov. 19 that Sandra Boyd has joined NAM as director of employment policy, with responsibility for lobbying Congress to pass the Teamwork for Employees and Managers Act and other labor-related legislation supported by the association. Boyd had most recently served as assistant general counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Labor Policy Association, where she represented executives on pending labor issues before Congress and federal agencies. At LPA, Boyd also served as co-chair of the TEAM Coalition, a group that supports passage of legislation that would give employers in no-nunion settings flexibility to set up employee involvement committees. In her new post, Boyd will lobby for changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act, among other labor law changes, and will chair the Flexible Employment, Compensation, and Scheduling Coalition.
BILL WOULD USE BUDGET SURPLUS TO CUT PAYROLL TAX: Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif) introduced Nov. 8 a bill (HR 2933) that would use the anticipated federal budget surplus to pay for a reduction in the employer and employee Social Security payroll tax rate. Cosponsored by Rep. William Jefferson (D-La), the Working Americans Gainful Employment Act would reduce the Social Security payroll tax rate each year by an amount equal to the federal budget surplus, Dreier said. Dreier said the reductions would continue as long as a federal budget surplus exists.
BILL WOULD SPEED CAPITAL GAINS TAX CUTS: Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill (HR 2803) Nov. 4 that would remove time restraints on capital gains tax rates included in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The legislation, referred to the Committee on House Ways and Means, would allow investments made within the short-and mid-term rates to receive capital gains tax breaks now instead of in 2006. Graham said that forcing investors to hold their investments for a certain amount of time works against a market-driven economy. "How can we conclude that an 18 month investment is better than a 17.9 month investment?" he asked. According to Graham's press secretary, the bill should see strong support in the Ways and Means Committee if the agenda continues to focus on taxes.
BILL WOULD CREAT VA JOB BIAS SYSTEM: Under legislation passed by the House Nov. 9 and the Senate Nov. 10, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to establish a new employment discrimination complaint resolution system for its employees. The Veterans' Benefits Act of 1997 (S 714) incorporates provisions of the Veterans Affairs Employment Discrimination Act (HR 1703), which passed the House on Oct. 6. Under the bill's employment discrimination provisions, DVA is directed to establish an Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication headed by a career appointee in the Senior Executive Service reporting directly to the DVA secretary or deputy secretary. The legislation also calls for a six-member panel appointed by the chairman and ranking minority member of the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees to evaluate the department's equal employment opportunity and sex harassment practices and procedures. If President Clinton signs the DVA bill, as expected, the employment discrimination provisions would take effect 90 days later.
Copyright © 1997 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.