March 2021 WSSRA Update

At its February 3rd meeting the Executive Board voted to move the dates of the 2021 Convention from June 6 – 10 to October 3 – 6.  The October event will be held at the same venue—the Pasco Red Lion.  The board made that decision based on problems with vaccine availability and the realization that holding a large gathering of seniors in June would not be appropriate or safe given ongoing COVID concerns.

The hope is that COVID worries will be behind us by fall, and that we can hold a safe on-site event.  Of course, COVID will determine if that comes to pass.  A final go/no-go decision on the October Convention will be made by mid-summer.  If it becomes clear that we cannot safely meet face-to-face in October, we will schedule a virtual convention.  For now, please hold October 3 – 6 on your calendars.

The February 18 virtual Pre-retirement webinar was successful beyond our expectations.  The event drew 2,300 registrants and 1,700 actual attendees, by far the largest single event in the history of our organization.  The Retirement Planning Committee will be meeting early in the month to review survey results and make tentative decisions on next steps—including whether to repeat the event later in the school year.

As for membership, we are following up with webinar registrants and hope to have a good number join our organization.

The 2021 legislative session has hit the halfway mark, with work on a 2021-23 biennial budget becoming a bigger priority as the session winds down.   Legislators have adjusted reasonably well to the virtual world with hearings that tend to run long given statewide access to remote testimony.  Unfortunately, two of our priority bills (a penalty free early-out option at age 60; a reopening of the PEBB enrollment window) have not been scheduled for hearings and look to be dead for the session. However, strong support exists for maintaining the $183 per month Medicare health care subsidy, and for making scheduled pension payments, both of which are crucial for retirement security.

The complete list of WSSRA legislative priorities is outlined under the legislative tab on the website, as are dates for legislative committee meetings and bill cutoff timelines.  With the emphasis on electronic communication, all members are encouraged to reach out to local representatives and senators to share WSSRA priorities. 

Please keep apprised of legislative action by following Legislative Director Peter Diedrick’s weekly podcasts and frequent written updates under the “Legislative” tab.

Thanks for your ongoing support, and please maintain close contact with your local legislators as the session unfolds.

 

 

Alan Burke, Executive Director