Priority Bill Progress – 2022 Session, Week 4

1st Sub HB 12 – Public Safety Retirement Amendments

First Substitute House Bill 12, Public Safety Retirement Amendments, sponsored by Representative Gwynn was heard by the House Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday, February 11. The “bill modifies requirements related to retirement from a public safety or firefighter requirement system.” It “reduces the length of the period of separation for post-retirement reemployment of a retiree from a public safety system or a firefighter retirement system.” Gwynn is proposing the bill to help address recruitment and retention challenges agencies are currently facing. He explained to the committee that by reducing the amount of time employees have to be retired from the state before being reemployed will be beneficial and help get experienced officers to stay in the state of Utah. The first substitute outlines that an employee must have a clear separation of employment of 90 days before post-retirement employment and the employee retiring cannot negotiate employment prior to retiring. The bill passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation and is now headed to the House floor for a vote. 

1st Sub HB 233 – Disability Benefit Amendments

Last Friday, February 11, the House Government Operations Standing Committee heard 1st Substitute House Bill 233 Disability Benefit Amendments sponsored by Representative King. The bill seeks to address a disparity between physical and mental health when it comes to long term disability coverage under the Public Employee Health Plan (PEHP). 

If an employee has a disabling condition, they are eligible for monthly income replacement for up to two years. However after the two year time frame, employees must prove that the condition is solely caused by a physical medical impairment. If the disabling condition is due in whole or part by a mental health condition, employees are not eligible for disability coverage after two years. Rep. King is seeking to remove this verbiage from policy to seek equity between mental and physical impairments. 

The sponsor ran the bill in 2020 but it was delayed due to the fiscal note. This year, PEHP recommended the 1st Sub. which makes the bill a three year pilot program. After addressing the financial impact, Rep. King will run a bill to adopt the practice permanently. 

Executive Director of UPEA, Todd Losser, spoke in favor of 1st substitute House Bill 233. The bill was passed out of committee with a unanimous favorable recommendation.