Retirement board changes get Senate panel’s approval
A legislative committee on Thursday advanced a bill changing requirements for six of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System’s nine trustees and limit to two the number of trustees retired from the system.
The Senate Committee on Public Retirement and Social Security Programs endorsed an amended version of House Bill 1258 by Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, after it voted to add an amendment proposed by Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron.
The system’s board is comprised of six appointees from the governor and one each from the state treasurer, the state auditor and the director of the state Department of Finance and Administration.
The system is state government’s second-largest retirement agency, with more than $7 billion in investments and more than 75,000 working and retired members from state and local governments.
The governor appoints three state employees and three local government employees. Each appointee must have 10 years of continuous service with a public employer and be a working or retired member of the system.
HB1258 would reduce the 10-year service requirement to five years, require the appointees to be system members and eliminate language allowing them to be retired members.
Executive Director Gail Stone warned a House committee last month the bill could affect the continued service of trustees Artee Williams, Ouida Wright and Bill Gaddy. Gillam countered he interprets state law to mean the trustees should have been replaced when they left state employment.
The amended version of the bill states, “No more than one of the three members who are nonstate employee trustees and no more than one of the three members who are state employee trustees may be a retired member of the system.”
HB1258 states “this act applies to a member currently serving on the board of trustees of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System as of the effective date of this act.” If approved by the Legislature, the bill would become effective when the governor signs it.
Williams is a former director of the state Department of Workforce Services. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson replaced him in 2015. Williams’ initial term on the board started in 2003 and his current term expires in 2020, according to system records.
Wright formerly worked for the Conway Human Development Center. Her initial term on the board started in 1989 and her current term expires March 17 of this year, according to system records. Gaddy formerly worked for the Department of Finance and Administration. His initial term started in 2007 and his current term expires in March 2019, according to system records.