Bill of the Week: House Bill 2786

CHIEF SPONSOR: This bill has no official sponsor. It was introduced at the request of the Multnomah County Prosecuting Attorneys Association. It is one of at least a half-dozen bills that purport to address a shortage of public employees.

WHAT PROBLEM IT SEEKS TO SOLVE: The DA's office says high turnover is a big problem. Nearly half of Multnomah County's 75 deputy DAs have less than five years experience because young prosecutors continually leave for better jobs.

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO: The bill would reclassify deputy district attorneys as public safety officers in the Public Employee Retirement System. (An estimated 373 lawyers would be affected.) That would allow them to accrue pension dollars at a higher rate and retire five years earlier than they do now with full pensions.
Other, similar bills would remove limits on the number of hours that retired teachers, police officers and corrections officers may work, allowing them to draw full pensions and earn full salaries in their old jobs at the same time.

WHO SUPPORTS IT: Deputy district attorneys.

WHO OPPOSES IT: The watchdog group Tax Fairness Oregon and the Association of Oregon Counties, which estimates it would cost $1.5 million the first year and escalate in cost after that. The association notes that Oregon already faces $26 billion in unfunded pension liability for public employees—and adds this bill is a step in the wrong direction. "Please get the PERS house in order before mandating any new unfunded mandates," AOC general counsel Rob Bovett told members of the House Committee on Business and Labor.