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Minutes for HB2063 - Committee on Insurance and Pensions

Short Title

Providing certain KP&F tier II spousal and children's benefits for death resulting from a service-connected disability.

Minutes Content for Mon, Jan 25, 2021

The Chairperson opened the hearing on HB2063 and asked David Wiese, Assistant Revisor ,Office of the Revisor of Statutes, to provide an overview of the bill.  Staff responded to Committee questions. (Attachment 3)

The Chairperson referred committee members to the Fiscal Note. 

Alan Conroy, Executive Director of KPERS, testified neutral to the bill.  He explained that HB2063 changes the benefits for certain KP&F members who are disabled and ultimately die due to service-connected conditions.   If approved, the proposed changes would be effective retroactively to July 1, 2019. Mr. Conroy explained that the proposed benefit change would be be the greater of either:

  • A monthly benefit equal to 50% of the members final average salary at the time of disability plus 10% for each dependent child up to a 75% maximum; or
  • If there are no dependent children,the retirement benefit the member would have received if the member had retired.

The Director then provided a summary of the projected costs of this benefit change and stated that the total increase in the KP&F contribution rate is estimated to be 0.04% of pay.  The total KP&F payroll is approximately $555 million so an increase of 0.04% in the employer contribution rate is approximately $222,000 spread over all 112 KP&F employers.  He also said that there would be some administrative work required due to the change in the benefit structures, including updates to print materials and changes to the information technology system to allow for payment of the new benefit.  However, he said these changes can be accomplished within existing resources.  Mr. Conroy addressed questions from the Committee. (Attachment 4)

Ryan Trader, Paramedic and Firefighter with the Olathe Fire Department, testified in support of the bill.  He stated that he is a member of the KPERS Board of Trustees, but that he was speaking as an individual today, not as a member of the Board.  He spoke to firefighter cancer, a real service-connected disability that leads to death.  He said this bill will make the death benefit the same for line of duty deaths and disability to deaths.  And then, instead of 25% of the employee's salary, this new bill will give the surviving spouse 50% of their deceased spouse's salary.  He urged the Committee to change the perspective on the definition of a Line of Duty Death and use HB2063 to correct the oversight in the benefit structure.  Mr. Trader addressed questions from the Committee. (Attachment 5)

 

Kate Wells, widow of Michael Wells, testified in support of the bill.  Mrs. Wells provided emotional testimony about the loss of her husband, as she described her husband;s diagnosis in October of 2018,Wri with stage IV esophageal cancer and that he died 11 months later in September 2019.  As his surviving spouse, she is left to raise their 3 young children on her teacher's salary and his disability death benefit of 25% of his final salary.  She tried to describe her personal struggle and pleaded with the Committee to pass HB2063.

Written testimony in support of the bill was submitted by:

Edward Klumpp, Lobbyist for Kansas Association of Police Chiefs, Kansas Sheriff's Association and Kansas Peace Officer Association (Attachment 6)

Mik Shanks, President of the Kansas State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (Attachment 7)

Dennis Phillips, Lobbyist for Kansas State Council of Firefighters (Attachment 8)

After asking if there were any other conferees and seeing none, Chairperson Johnson closed the hearing on HB2063.