PERI Testifies in Opposition to HB 413

House Committee Schedules Hearing for Opponent Testimony on HB 413
February 2, 2018
PERI Membership Card Update
February 13, 2018

PERI Testifies in Opposition to HB 413

(February 7, 2018)  Yesterday, the House Committee on Aging and Long Term Care heard testimony from both proponents and opponents on HB 413.  The majority of the 13 persons who spoke on various parts of the bill were opposed to OPERS efforts to cap retirees’ COLA payment at actual inflation up to a maximum of 2.5%.  OPERS Executive Director, Karen Carraher, was given yet another opportunity to address the committee and led those testifying with remarks in support of the bill.  She was followed by PERI President & CEO, Geoff Hetrick, who spoke about the lack of a financial challenge to OPERS pension’s funded status that would otherwise create an argument for such a reduction to take place.  He followed with remarks about breaking the trust between OPERS and retirees who have seen reductions in their purchasing power with the simple COLA they receive.  Additional testimony was offered by PERI member and former Morgan County Prosecutor, Rich Ross, who spoke about the breach of a vesting contract that would take place if the bill were to pass in its current form.  Mr. Ross pointed out there is case law that clearly demonstrates that such a change to the COLA would violate both the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions.  All persons who testified in opposition to the bill made good arguments and presented our position with clarity.  PERI will keep you informed of further developments.



  1. Donna says:

    Thank you PERI. Is there a transcript somewhere?

  2. Catherine S. says:

    I heard at a PERI chapter meeting that Representative Scherer, who sponsored HB 413, did not realize until recently that the 3% COLA was based on the initial benefit and not compounded like Social Security. So he then withdrew his support? Is this correct and what does this mean for the legislation?

  3. James says:

    Carraher is a political hack. I urge PERI to publish the exorbitant salaries of the OPERS Board of Trustees. And why does the CIO, and who, by the way, does not have a postgraduate degree in economics, continue to invest in high fee, high risk, low return hedge funds? An independent, transparent audit is desperately needed. Let’s drain the $wamp!

  4. David says:

    I know it seems obvious but It might be best for opponents of HB 413 to continue calls to legislators and OPERS voicing their concerns.

    I’m also hopeful Mr. Ross can help determine whether the 3% cola is a vested benefit that cannot be overturned by legislation. If he can help us do this quickly it could prevent an unnecessary legal entanglement with both OPERS and the legislature. Trying to overturn this after passage would be much harder, I would guess.

    Why don’t the legislators reach across the aisle and help negotiate a fair settlement here? That seemed to work pretty well with redistricting reform last week.

  5. RPM says:

    Good job PERI. In answer to my letter to with my state senator, she replied that we (the senators) have received a high volume correspondence on this issue. She is researching the topic and discussing it with fellow senators. My state representative replied that he would not support the bill. It is apparent that the OPERS COLA reduction submission, the effort of individual retirees and PERI have caught the attention of our representatives. Keep the pressure on.
    In addition we have learned that ” The union representing school-bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors and other non-teaching school employees filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to block a three-year cost-of-living freeze imposed on its retirees by the School Employees Retirement System (SERS).
    The Ohio Association of Public School Employees said the freeze, set to take effect March 23, would impact nearly 80,000 retirees who average a monthly pension of $1,223.” (Columbus Dispatch, Jan 31,2018)
    Many of us in OPERS retired from management positions but I would think that there are workers that are/were represented by various unions. I am surprised somewhat that they haven’t stepped forward like the police union to help PERI and us in our struggle with the COLA and OPERS. They would help impress the people who manage our retirement funds that we have standards of expectations.
    Anyway, PERI and Geoff Hetrick, thanks and keep up the good fight.

  6. Daniel says:

    Thank You PERI – I read the transcript from February 6 . I appreciated all the effort PERI , Geoff Hetrick and all the other people in opposition of reducing our COLA. After reading the transcripts I thought PERI did an excellent job of trying to preserve our retiree benefits . I felt PERI ( Geoff Hetrick) brought out the facts that support the continued benefits to retirees we deserve . I am proud to be a member of this group and even more so after I see how PERI truly stands up for us.

  7. Rick says:

    I attended the hearing as a show of support, I had hoped to see more of y’all there.
    Geoff Hetrick had a great presentation prepared, as did the FOP and a few other effected individuals. Including a former county prosecutor who laid out what I thought was a good legal argument ( but what do I know ) against 413. It was hard for me to read what the lawmakers were thinking but fingers crossed and keep writing and get your family members to write in support . It lets them know it more than just our votes.

  8. Donna says:

    Well done PERI and retirees! Let’s keep the momentum going.

  9. Donna says:

    Where do we find the transcript?

  10. Jerry M. says:

    I retired from O.D.O.T. in 2012. I was a bargaining unit employee. O.C.S.E.A. is the union that represents state employees. Chris Mabe is O.C.S.E.A. president. He is on the Opers board. He voted as a board member for the proposed c.o.l.a. cuts to move forward in the general assembly. That is why O.C.S.E.A. has not voiced opposition of H.B. 413. Retirees need to contact him and ask him why as a board member and union president he voted in favor of h.b. 413. Retirees can find his email at There is also a phone number to contact him also.

    • Michael Roberts says:

      Ok, I emailed him and asked why he would support such a position. As my grandfather used to say, he puts his pants on the same as you and probably a hell of a lot slower, never back down.

      • Michael Roberts says:

        Best to use the twitter, let everyone see it – – my tweet – O.C.S.E.A. is the union that represents state employees. Chris Mabe is President of O.C.S.E.A. He voted as a OPERS board member for the proposed c.o.l.a. cuts to move forward in the general assembly. That is why O.C.S.E.A. has not voiced opposition of H.B. 413. Why Chris , Why?

    • James says:

      Talk about hypocrisy! I urge PERI members to read Mabe’s comments when he was sworn in to OPERS Board of Trustees, @ More pledges and promises haven’t been broken since Cadet Bone Spurs’ campaign. And that ain’t fake news, folks! On a more serious note, I would like to extend my gratitude to Geoff Hetrick and Rich Ross on their recent, articulate, testimonies in opposition of HB 413. Well done, gentlemen. Thank you.

  11. Jerry M. says:

    I would like to offer retirees some food for thought, There will be an election this fall for the following Opers board positions. State Employees Rep., Municipal Employees Rep., County Employees Rep., Retirees Rep., This is a chance to make changes to the Opers Board! Retirees need to consider new board members this fall! If the sitting board members in these positions have opponents, do your homework and consider these candidates! It is time for changes to the Opers board! Thanks.

    • Jill hensley says:

      I just got my ballot in the mail to vote for representatives. It seems there are two that support protecting our cost of living. I came here to see which one is favored by members of this group. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      • Gary says:

        Jill, in reading the Retiree Representative Candidate Biographies paper sent with my ballot, reading between the lines, Charlene Powell supports cutting our 3% COLA. Ron Alexander speaks in 3rd person saying he instead of saying I support keeping retirees COLA at 3% annually. and he lists retention of health care before the COLA. Timothy Steitz owns it and states I am especially interested in protecting COLAs. He has many years of job experience in the public pension investment field along with a Master’s Degree from the University of Akron.

  12. Jerry M says:

    2018 is an election year, It will be interesting to see if the general assembly moves on this at all? Only time will tell. Keep contacting members of the general assembly! Turn up the heat!

  13. Dean says:

    If you are reading this and have not contacted your representatives, please do so. The fight is not over.

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