Only three days to go! We have seen a lot of late nights with either floor work or committees working until midnight almost every night. Both the House and Senate worked late again Friday night to avoid having to come in on Saturday or Sunday. The 2022 legislative session must end by midnight on Wednesday.
HB 1029 (the PERA Payback bill) is our primary issue still outstanding this session. Late last week, the CSPA together with our partners in SecurePERA agreed to a compromise on HB 1029. Based on this compromise, PERA will receive the scheduled $225 million transfer from the general fund on July 1, 2022, together with $380 million in the PERA cash fund. $225 million of the monies in the PERA cash fund will be allocated to payback the cancelled 2020 payment. All members of SecurePERA felt it was very important for the State to make up the cancelled payment so that there is no precedent of the State ignoring its obligation under SB 18-200. The rest of the $380 million in the cash fund ($155 million) will be credited towards the scheduled 2023 payment (reducing the scheduled $225 million payment to $70 million). In addition, any interest earned on the $380 million will be credited towards both the 2023 and 2024 payments. While we all wanted more money for PERA, we believed the most important part was to require the State to fulfill its obligations under SB 18-200 and repay the missed 2020 payment.
In addition to the PERA Payback bill, this past week I worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other stakeholders to prevent an amendment allowing bars to open early. You will remember that earlier this session we were successful in killing HB 1142 concerning the creation of an extended service hours permit for alcohol beverage sales. HB 1142 would have allowed bars to either open two hours earlier (at 5:00 am) or close two hours later (at 4:00 am). The CSPA opposed HB 1142 together with a coalition of others including MADD and our partners in the law enforcement community. Now, there is an attempt to try to put an amendment on bills still working their way through the legislative process to allow bars to open one hour earlier. We will continue to work to prevent this amendment from getting adopted.
As of Friday, there have been 657 bills introduced – 418 in the House and 239 in the Senate. Only three days until the General Assembly is required to adjourn sine die.