Friday, August 4, 2017

Protect Your Earned Benefits During NARFE's Grassroots Advocacy Month!










In August, members of Congress return to their home states and districts from Washington, DC, to touch base with their constituents and listen to the concerns of their community. Because of this, August is NARFE's Grassroots Advocacy Month and the perfect opportunity to make your voice heard! NARFE’s goal is to ensure legislators support protecting and enhancing the earned pay and retirement and health benefits of the federal community, not take these earned benefits away.


How are you planning to take action during Grassroots Advocacy Month? Use NARFE's new Advocacy Hopscotch Worksheet to determine the advocacy action that’s best for you.


The first thing every NARFE member should do is send a message to their legislators using NARFE's Legislative Action Center and from there, decide how far to proceed based on their own comfort level with the succeeding box. Engaging legislators in multiple ways is encouraged! Each type of outreach strengthens NARFE's position and builds relationships with legislators.


Please join your fellow NARFE members across the country and engage with members of your congressional delegation during Grassroots Advocacy Month. We need every NARFE member to take action in order to prevent threats to the federal community from becoming law.



NARFE's Legislative Priorities in August


Click on the links below to send a message to your legislators via NARFE's Legislative Action Center regarding NARFE's legislative priorities:





Resources
Click on the links below to view grassroots resources and guidelines for your advocacy efforts this August:


Thank you for taking action in August. We appreciate your time and efforts! If you have questions about how to engage with your legislators around NARFE's legislative priorities please contact leg@narfe.org.

Sincerely,


NARFE's Legislative Department




Saturday, July 29, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline July 28, 2017













Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“We are just days away from the start of Grassroots Advocacy Month, and it could not come at a more critical time. The federal community is facing many threats during the federal budget process, and your legislators need to hear from you. It is time we use our collective voice to let legislators know that we will not stand for ANY cuts to our earned pay and benefits. Proposals that would negatively impact your retirement, such as eliminating or reducing your cost-of-living adjustments, are on the table. If we do not speak out against cuts to your earned pay and benefits, Congress will view this as acceptance.”

TSP Modernization Act Approved by Senate Committee

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) followed its House counterpart and approved the TSP Modernization Act of 2017, S. 873. The bill was approved by voice vote in the committee. The legislation would allow multiple partial post-separation withdrawals, which participants can time to their individual needs and provide multiple age-based withdrawals for participants who are still working and are older than age 59-1/2. The bill also would add flexibility to withdrawals by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permit periodic withdrawals that can be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while allowing the account balance to remain in the TSP. Finally, the bill would eliminate the withdrawal election deadline.

NARFE supports the legislation and sent a letter urging HSGAC members to advance the proposal. The bill now must be considered by the full Senate and House. NARFE members are encouraged to send a letter to their legislators asking them to support the bill here.

Republican Study Committee Releases Proposed Budget 

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of about 150 lawmakers, released its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal this week. The budget includes similar and additional cuts to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community that were previously suggested by the president and the House Budget Committee.

The proposal recommends that current employees contribute a higher percentage toward their retirement and their retirement benefits be calculated by a worker’s highest five years of salary as opposed to the current three years. The RSC also proposes cutting the annual across-the-board pay increases for current federal workers by 0.5 percent below what the current formula allows. Additionally, the budget includes eliminating the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity supplement for employees who retire before age 62. 

Within the proposed budget is a recommendation to voucherize the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which would limit the government’s contribution toward premiums and cause enrollees to pay a greater share over time. Of note, the recently introduced budget proposals from the president and the House Budget Committee did not include any changes to FEHBP. Finally, the RSC budget proposal prohibits automatic deductions of union dues for federal employees, eliminates the use of union official time and recommends considering all employees as “at-will.” 

NARFE stands against the cuts outlined in all of the aforementioned budget proposals. Members are strongly encouraged to write and call their legislators in defense of the federal community.

Use of the Holman Rule Defeated in the House

The House defeated its first attempt this year to use the Holman rule by a vote of 116-309. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-VA, offered an amendment to a four-bill appropriations minibus, which would have abolished the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 89-employee budget analysis division.

Under the Holman Rule, an amendment may be offered during floor debate on an appropriations bill to do any of the following: reduce the number of employees within a federal agency; reduce the salaries of those employees, or even a single employee’s salary; or, eliminate one particular federal position.

NARFE stands against the use of the Holman rule — which was last used in the 1980s — and lobbied for its removal from the House rules package. Hopefully, the resounding failure of this amendment will serve to prevent its use in the future.

House Passes $788 Billion “Minibus” Spending Package

The House passed a $788 billion "minibus" spending bill, which would fund the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Energy Department, the Department of Defense and the legislative branch for fiscal year 2018. The bill passed by a vote of 235-192. Of note, the package includes a 2.4 percent increase in military pay.

The spending levels outlined in this package are not likely to become law without additional action to lift the strict caps on spending set forth by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Bipartisan budget negotiations will determine the ultimate levels, and final appropriations will be determined thereafter. Eight other spending bills, which would fund the rest of the federal government, still await action by the House. The current federal spending authority expires on September 30.

Grassroots Advocacy Month is Almost Here!

It’s nearly August, which means Grassroots Advocacy Month is almost here.

During NARFE’s Grassroots Advocacy Month, NARFE members are encouraged to take advantage of the long congressional recess to reconnect with legislators and urge them to oppose any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. Are you ready to stand in opposition to harmful policies affecting the federal community?

NARFE members are encouraged to check out NARFE’s grassroots resources on the NARFE Grassroots Advocacy page here. Make sure to log in to the NARFE website so you can access this important information. If you have not done so already, get acquainted with Grassroots Advocacy Month by watching NARFE’s webinar "Choose Your Own Advocacy Adventure: Preparing for August" here.

Hotline on an As-Needed Basis Until September 8

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published on an as-needed basis until September 8. In lieu of the Hotline, the NARFE Legislative Department will send messages regarding how NARFE members can take action during Grassroots Advocacy Month.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new easy-to-use NARFE Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 or toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 REGION X CONFERENCE

ANNOUNCEMENT

CONFERENCE POINT OF CONTACT:
William "Bill" Shackelford
Regional Vice President
Region X
The 2017 Region X Conference is scheduled for Tuesday, October 10 thru Thursday, October 12, 2017. Travel days are Monday, October 9 and Friday, October 13. The theme for the Conference is NARFE – Vision For The Future And You
While the agenda is still being finalized, the new NARFE Executive Director Barbara Sido has agreed to attend and hold a Meet and Greet – Getting To Know Barb session for all attendees. In addition, the plans are to have a Q & A Forum Discussion to include NARFE Federal Benefits Service Director David Snell, as well as representatives from both the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration.
The Conference will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn located at 65 Priority Drive (I-81 Exit 12) in Martinsburg, West Virginia. (Use 14328 Apple Harvest Drive; Martinsburg West Virginia for your GPS). Hotel is .7 miles from exit ramp. To make your reservation by telephone, you can call the hotel at (304) 263-0101 and mention that you are with the NARFE Region X Conference.
If you wish to make your reservations online, you can use the following link to make your reservations.
After opening this link, at the top of the page put in your reservation dates. Below the dates you will see “Best Price Guarantee / More Options”.
Click on “More Options” and to the right will appear “Add Special Rate Codes”.
Click on “Add Special Rate Codes” and enter “NARFE” as the Group Code.
Click on "Check Room & Rates"
With its excellent Martinsburg, West Virginia location and easy highway access, the Hilton Garden Inn provides many exciting shopping, dining and service options within walking distance. Enjoy exhilarating outdoor recreation including geocaching, hiking, white water rafting and zip-lines. Visit local attractions such as Summit Point Motor Sports Park, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, and Peacemaker National Training Center, home of the NRA World Shooting Championship.
In addition, the Hilton Garden Inn is a non-smoking hotel and offers a business center, free Wi-Fi, full service Garden Grill and Bar where Classic American fare is served between 5:00 PM and 10:00 PM. Other fantastic hotel facilities include an indoor heated pool, fitness center and outdoor patio with fire pit and seating. A hot cooked-to-order breakfast is available every morning of your stay. All rooms provide many conveniences of home: refrigerators, microwaves, Keurig (K–Cup) coffee makers, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards.
Room rate for the four nights associated with the conference is $114.00 plus applicable taxes. This period begins on Monday October 9 and continues through 11:00 AM (CHECK-OUT) on Friday October 13. Room rates may increase slightly after 11:00 AM (CHECK-OUT) on Friday.
Conference Registration Form can be found on the Region X website at www.narferx.org. as well as the websites for all of Region X Federation websites.
Deadline – September 1, 2017.
As necessary, conference updates will also be posted on these websites.
Make checks payable to: William Shackelford / 2017 Region X Conference
MAIL TO:     William Shackelford
14429 Round Lick Lane
Centreville, Virginia 20120-1680
Hotel reservations must be made prior to September 1, 2017 in order to guarantee the conference room rate.

Friday, July 21, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline July 21, 2017











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“The House Budget Committee approved its 2018 fiscal year budget resolution, setting the stage for cuts to your earned pay and benefits. This budget proposes a ‘retirement tax’ on hard-working public servants and would require cuts to federal retirement benefits, to the tune of at least $32 billion. Federal workers and retirees have dedicated their lives to serving the public good and their work should be honored; this budget proposal does the opposite. NARFE members need to stand united against any threats to their earned pay and benefits as the budget process continues. If we do not speak out against these threats, Congress will view that as acceptance.”

House Budget Committee Advances Budget Resolution 

The House Budget Committee approved its 2018 fiscal year budget resolution, setting up cuts to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. For the upcoming fiscal year, the resolution allocated $621.5 billion for defense spending – a $70.5 billion increase from FY17 and $511 billion for nondefense discretionary spending – a $8 billion decrease from FY17.

The resolution also includes reconciliation instructions to 11 House committees to come up with $203 billion in revenue increases or spending cuts over the course of the next 10 years. This includes $32 billion in cuts to spending programs under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR). The main spending programs under OGR jurisdiction are federal retirement and health benefits. As such, the instruction to OGR essentially would require at least $32 billion in cuts to federal retirement or health benefits over the course of a decade.

While it is ultimately up to OGR to develop these legislative proposals, the Budget Committee put forward two suggestions that would cut retirement benefits. First, the committee proposed increasing the amount federal employees pay into their pensions, which is nothing more than a pay cut equal to the increased portion they contribute. Secondly, the committee proposed ending the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Annuity Supplement. Specific details on who these proposals would affect were not stated in the budget resolution.

While the budget must be agreed upon by the full House and Senate, passage by the House Budget Committee is the first step in that process. If and when that occurs, the next stage will be for House and Senate committees to approve spending levels and changes aligned with the budget’s requirements.

NARFE members are encouraged to write and call their legislators and ask that they oppose the budget and stand against any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees.

TSP Modernization Act Approved by Oversight Committee 

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved by voice vote the TSP Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 3031. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-MD, and Mark Meadows, R-NC, would provide more flexible withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts.

The legislation would allow multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals, which participants can time to their individual needs, and would provide multiple age-based withdrawals for participants who are still working and are older than age 59-½. It would add flexibility to the TSP by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permit periodic withdrawals that can be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while allowing the account balance to remain in the TSP. Finally, the bill would eliminate the withdrawal election deadline.

NARFE supports the bill, and sent a letter urging committee members to advance the legislation, which they did. The Employee Thrift Advisory Council, of which NARFE is a member, also supports the changes to TSP withdrawal options outlined in this bill. NARFE members are encouraged to send a letter to their legislators asking them to support the bill here.

Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act Introduced

This week, legislation was introduced in the House that would repeal the two recent increases in federal employee retirement contributions. The Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act, H.R. 3269, introduced by Rep. Anthony G. Brown, D-MD, would return most federal employee retirement contributions to the pre-2013 0.8 percent level.

Beginning in 2013, new federal employees were mandated to pay more toward their retirement than their previously hired colleagues, without any increase in benefits. Those hired in 2013 pay 2.3 percent more, and those hired in 2014 and beyond pay 3.6 percent more than those hired prior to 2013. Over 10 years, these increases in retirement contributions will amount to a $21 billion loss in take-home pay for these federal employees, and much more thereafter, with no added benefit in retirement. 

NARFE supports this bill. Legislators should not treat federal employee pay as a piggy bank to pay for other congressional spending priorities. Such practices inhibit the federal government from recruiting and retaining the nation’s best and brightest, undermining the ability of our government to carry out its mission of serving the American people.

Fiduciary Rule Repeal Bill Approved By House Committee 

The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act, H.R. 2823, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by a vote of 23-17. The bill, which would repeal the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, was also referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Under the fiduciary rule, financial advisers are subject to new impartial conduct standards when recommending rollovers of assets into individual retirement accounts (IRAs), including rollovers from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). For this reason, NARFE supports the rule and is working to prevent any attempts to undo it. You can contact your lawmakers in support of the rule here.

Legislative Webinar: Federal Benefits Under Attack – What You Need To Know 

NARFE's Legislative Department hosted a webinar this week on the very real threats to your earned federal retirement and health benefits. The webinar reviewed the proposals currently being debated in Congress that could impact your retirement and health care plans – and what you can do to prevent those proposals from becoming law. The proposed budget being debated in Congress has crippling implications for the earned pay and benefits of current and retired Feds, making it extremely important that all federal workers and retirees understand what’s at stake and take action.

An archived version of the 20-minute webinar, hosted by NARFE’s Legislative Director Jessica Klement, is available to view here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.


Friday, July 14, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline July 14, 2017


Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“House Budget Chairman Diane Black continues to pursue consensus within her committee and caucus in anticipation of moving a budget resolution out of committee next week. The budget resolution taking shape is expected to require significant cuts to mandatory spending, which includes federal retirement. NARFE members need to stand up and contact their representative to express their opposition to such proposals. On Tuesday, July 18, there will be a national call-in day to protect your earned benefits. Please be sure to use our call script below and contact your representative on Tuesday.”

Upcoming Legislative Webinar: Federal Benefits Under Attack – What You Need To Know 

NARFE's Legislative Department is hosting a webinar on the very real threats to your earned federal retirement and health benefits. The webinar will review the proposals currently being debated in Congress that could impact your retirement and health care plans – and what you can do to prevent them from becoming law. The proposed budget being debated in Congress has crippling implications for the earned pay and benefits of current and retired Feds, making it extremely important that all federal workers and retirees understand what’s at stake and take action.

The 20-minute webinar will be hosted by NARFE’s Legislative Director Jessica Klement on Thursday, July 20, at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to register now! Those unable to attend the live webinar can access it on the NARFE website within 48 hours.

Call Your Representative to Protect Your Benefits on July 18 

On Tuesday, July 18, NARFE will be participating in a national call-in day in partnership with the Federal-Postal Coalition which includes 30 member organizations. NARFE members should call their representative on Tuesday in order to protect their earned pay and benefits from being targeted in the congressional budget process. Timing is critical, as the House Budget Committee is pushing to mark up their proposed budget as early as next week.

Threats to your retirement security already have been outlined in the president’s budget proposal, and the threats are real. NARFE members must take a stand to ensure that the congressional budget resolution does not set the stage for those proposals, or any other cuts to federal retirement programs, to become law.

Members should dial NARFE’s toll-free number (1-866-220-0044) and use this call script to ask their representative to reject any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal workers and retirees. Your benefits have been earned and cutting them in retirement goes back on a fundamental promise made to those who dedicated their working lives for the public good.

Be sure to call your representative on Tuesday, July 18!

NARFE President Joins Town Hall Discussion on Alzheimer’s 

This week, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen joined Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, for a town hall meeting focused on resources for those living with Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers. Thissen appeared with a panel of Alzheimer’s activists from Northern Virginia and spoke at the event, titled “Facing Alzheimer’s: Community Resources, Support and Action.” 

During the town hall, Rep. Connolly discussed the resources available for those living with Alzheimer’s and opened the floor for discussion on what needs to be done to help support individuals with the disease. He expressed the need for more care options and better treatment, and put forward the idea of an Alzheimer’s “moon shot,” which would provide considerable federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.

When giving his remarks, Thissen reaffirmed NARFE’s commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and proudly boasted NARFE members' dedication to the cause. Thissen also noted that since partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association, NARFE members have donated more than $12.3 million to help find a cure for this devastating disease.

More information about the Alzheimer’s Association can be found here. Thank you to all NARFE members who have taken part in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Chapter 1587

Marshall County Chapter 1587 met at the Marshall County Public Library.
Here is Joe explaining the New Federal Budget.
photos by Laurel Rose