U.S. Senate could resolutions interfere with states offering retirement programs for private-sector employees

The U.S. Senate is considering two resolutions that, if passed, would block states from establishing retirement savings programs for non-governmental workers whose private-sector employers do not offer 401 (k)s or pensions. 

S.J Res. 32 and S.J. Res. 33 would invalidate rules submitted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration regarding savings arrangements established by states for non-governmental employees and qualified state political subdivision for non-governmental employees, according to congressional summaries of the resolutions published at

S.J. Res. 32 would nullify a rule that describes circumstances in which state payroll deduction savings programs with automatic enrollment would not give rise to the establishment of employee pension benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974, also known as ERISA. If the joint resolution were to pass the senate and house, the rule would no longer guide states designing the programs to reduce the risk of ERISA preemption of state laws and private-sector employers that may be covered by the state laws. S.J. Res. 33 would reverse a DOJ rule that amends a final regulation that expands the operation of payroll deduction savings programs for private-sector employees beyond states to cover qualified state political subdivisions.

U.S. representatives have already passed House Joint Resolution 66 and 67, which calls for the same restrictions as the Senate resolutions. The resolutions are receiving opposition from several organizations, including TEXPERS.

TEXPERS' executive director, Max Patterson, wrote letters to Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz urging the congressional leaders to vote against the resolutions. He isn't the only person writing Congress. TEXPERS and the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems are asking members to write their own letters to their U.S. senators urging them to vote “no” when the resolutions are brought to the floor for votes.
According to NCPERS, states have developed programs that combine the best of public- and private-sector approaches, based on years of research and study. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington have already enacted legislation to help private-sector employers automatically enroll their employees in Secure Choice retirement plans.

A bill being considered by the Texas House and Senate could create a Secure Choice retirement plan in the state. If the U.S. joint resolutions are passed, it could spell doom for the Texas bill. TEXPERS' Patterson said Texans have a legendary independence and the U.S. Congress should not get in the way of any progress Texas may make to provide retirement security for all working people. 
Read The Letters

Sen. John Cornyn

Sen. Ted Curz



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