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Bill to let retirees return to work without pension problems, passes House

As COVID-19 continues to linger, the tougher it has become to maintain an adequate number of health care workers.

A 2020 law provided temporary help. It now needs to be tweaked and extended to prevent unintended consequences.

Heading back to the Senate is HF3136/SF2957* that was passed 130-1, as amended, by the House Thursday, one week after the initial 66-0 Senate vote. The amendment reflects agreement on an effective date.

Minnesota law lets retirees return to public employers and continue to receive pension payments, provided they work less than a full-time schedule.

However, a law enacted in May 2020 as COVID-19 was becoming prevalent, allowed retired health care workers receiving a retirement annuity from a Public Employee Retirement Association or the Minnesota State Retirement System on or after March 13, 2020 to work as many hours as needed without suspension or reduction of the retiree’s pension payments.

The problem, according to Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove), who sponsors the bill with Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), is the language expired Dec. 31, 2021.

The bill extends the law to Dec. 31, 2023. It also corrects language to ensure that health care workers who did not meet the technical requirements of the session law will not be required to repay their annuity.

“Health care workers are tired. Health care systems and long-term health care providers have thousands of open positions. And people are retiring or leaving the field rapidly,” Bahner told the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee Feb. 10. “This exception is but one tool to help the health care sector to get through by bringing back skilled employees who want to return and contribute to caring for their patients without penalizing their hard-earned pension.”

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