U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Disapprove Rules on State Organized Retirement Programs

Voting on H.J. Res. 66 and H.J. Res. 67 took place Wednesday afternoon, February 15, on the House Floor. These joint resolutions passed to roll back rules set in place in August and December 2016, respectively, by the Department of Labor, or DoL. The DoL rules allowed state and local governments flexibility in creating a marketplace of retirement options for employees of the private sector that otherwise could be interpreted as unallowable by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the president, the DoL rules will then hold no force or effect and programs could be unallowable under the preemption of ERISA statute.

The first resolution (H.J. Res 66) was introduced on Feb. 7, 2017 by Representative Tim Walberg (R-WI), Chair of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. The resolution disapproved of the August 2016 DoL rule, “Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees,” that assists states that create individual retirement accounts, or IRA, programs for workers who do not have access to workplace savings arrangements. The rule was issued in response to state concerns that the preemption clause in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, would not allow them to create such programs. DoL issued the rule to clarify that such programs would be allowed and formally create a “safe harbor” for such state programs within existing law and regulation.

During the public comment on the regulation, there was strong support for extending the “safe harbor” to local governments. In response DoL issued a second rule in December 2016 providing the same assurances to cities and large political subdivisions interested in establishing such programs. The second joint resolution, H.J. Res. 67, was proposed later in the day on Feb. 7, 2017 by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), which disapproves of the second rule released in December by the DoL that extended the program to cities and large political subdivisions. Both resolutions are being considered under the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, and so require approval of both chambers and the president’s signature. If successful, the CRA process will prevent the executive branch from similar regulations in the future, unless explicitly authorized in future statute.

 

For more information on the Final Rule from the Department of Labor click here.

For more information on following H.J. Res. 66 click here

For more information on following H.J. Res. 67 click here

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