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NEWS:

NARFE Legislative Hotline, January 23, 2015

Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Time is running out to register for NARFE’s Legislative Training Conference. This is NARFE’s premier conference, where you will learn more about NARFE’s legislative agenda, hear from nationally renowned speakers and meet with your legislators and their staff on Capitol Hill. More information is below. I hope to see you there!"

2015 NARFE Legislative Training Conference

NARFE is hosting its biennial Legislative Training Conference in Arlington, VA, March 14-17. Join NARFE members from across the country for the opportunity to hear from national speakers, have hands-on training, receive updated legislative briefings and to network with NARFE leaders. The conference will end with a trip to Capitol Hill, where you can meet with legislators and their staff to discuss the issues facing NARFE members. February 3 is the final day to register and reserve your hotel, so don’t delay. For more information, check out our Legislative Training Conference page here. From there, you can register online or mail in a registration form. Questions? Email the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org. We hope to see you there!

Paid Sick Leave for Wounded Veterans

Serving as Federal Employees Proposed Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA, introduced H.R. 313, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, which is similar to the bill he introduced last Congress. Under the legislation, service-disabled veterans employed by the federal government will begin their jobs with 104 hours of paid sick time for medical leave as a result of their injuries. This will make it easier for wounded veterans to schedule medical appointments and keep up with their rehabilitation from service-related injuries. The additional leave will expire after at the end of their first year of employment. NARFE supports this bipartisan bill, which currently has six cosponsors.

Lummis Introduces Bill to Shrink the Federal Workforce

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-WY, introduced H.R. 417, a bill that would require a reduction in the number of federal employees, shrinking the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next five years. The reduction would be achieved through attrition by imposing a hiring freeze on any agency exceeding a limit of one new hire for every three departing employees. Although the bill’s sponsor claims the measure would save the federal government $35 billion without changes in appropriations, it would result in the remaining workforce having to do more with fewer employees. NARFE opposes the proposal.

Update on Tax Form 1099-R

Each year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sends form 1099-R, Statement Annuity Paid, to both retirees and survivors for use in filing income tax returns. OPM will print and mail these forms to annuitants who have not signed up to receive them electronically, in time to be received by January 31. Many retirees and survivors are using OPM’s Services Online to view and print their forms. OPM is currently updating the site to have the 2014 forms available by January 31. Until the site becomes available, those who need a duplicate form 1099-R for prior years will have to make a request either by calling 1-888-767-6738 or by emailing OPM at retire@opm.gov.

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NARFE Legislative Hotline, January 16, 2015

Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“It was another busy week for NARFE legislatively. We worked closely with Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Sen. Schatz of Hawaii on legislation they introduced providing federal employees an adequate pay raise in 2016. I was proud to endorse that proposal on behalf of NARFE. Additionally, President Obama issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to advance their employees six weeks of sick leave after the birth or adoption of a child. While NARFE supports full paid parental leave, the President’s action is a good first step.”

Legislation Introduced to Provide a 3.8% Raise for Feds

Earlier this week, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, introduced H.R. 304, the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, which will provide federal employees with a 3.8 percent pay raise in 2016. Sens. Brian Schatz, D-HI, and Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, introduced the companion bill, S. 164, in the Senate. The legislation comes on the heels of a 1 percent raise for federal employees in each of the past two years, preceded by a three-year pay freeze. With the wage gap expanding between private- and public-sector jobs, a 3.8 percent raise will better allow the federal government to stay competitive and attract the best workers.

The Federal-Postal Coalition, which NARFE chairs, sent letters of support to Connolly and Schatz, which can be found on the NARFE website. The NARFE press release on the bill’s introduction can be found here.

Presidential

Memorandum on Parental Leave

President Obama issued a memorandum on Thursday directing federal agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for employees upon the birth or adoption of a child. He also is pushing Congress to pass legislation that would provide federal employees with six weeks of paid parental leave. The federal government currently offers no paid parental leave when many private-sector companies do, and the United States is the only industrialized country without a paid parental leave policy. NARFE supports the President’s action as a push toward a more family-friendly work environment for federal employees, which will help retain our nation’s best and brightest.

State of the Union 2015

On Tuesday, January 20, President Obama will speak before a joint session of Congress to give his State of the Union address. Given annually, the address provides the President a forum in which to outline his legislative agenda and his priorities for the coming year. His address will be broadcast live.

2015 NARFE Legislative Training Conference

NARFE is hosting its biennial Legislative Training Conference in Arlington, VA, March 14-17. Join NARFE members from across the country for hands-on training opportunities to learn how to become a more effective NARFE advocate. The conference will end with a trip to Capitol Hill, where you can meet with legislators and their staff to discuss the issues facing NARFE members. February 3 is the final day to register, so don’t delay. For more information, check out our Legislative Training Conference page here. From there, you can register online or mail in a registration form. Questions? Email the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org. We hope to see you there!

Resources for State Legislative Advocacy

January and February are the peak months for state legislative sessions. All but three are already in session or will be shortly. Eighteen state governors have delivered their State of the State Address. View yours on the C-SPAN Video Archive or read the full text. You can also query a database to track state legislation. Then volunteer to help your chapter or federation officers keep NARFE members informed and engaged.

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NARFE Legislative Hotline, January 9, 2015

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“The 114th Congress was sworn in this week, and already there’s talk that federal employees and retirees will have to make sacrifices to pay for other congressional priorities. NARFE members should be on alert for action items coming from Headquarters in the coming weeks. Want to play a bigger role in advocacy but not sure how or where to start? Join us in March for the Legislative Training Conference, details below.”

Swearing In of the New Congress

Members of Congress were sworn in on Tuesday, January 6, marking the beginning of the 114th Congress. The new Congress ushers in a Republican majority in both chambers. Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, was elected Speaker of the House for a third term, while Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, is returning as House Minority Leader. In the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, will serve as Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, will serve as Senate Minority Leader.

Committee assignments are nearly set, with subcommittee announcements likely coming in the next few weeks. Watch for more information on this new Congress and its key players in future Hotlines.

NARFE Legislative Accomplishments in the 113th Congress

NARFE is proud of the work it carried out on behalf of its members in the 113th Congress. Read all about our legislative victories in the 113th Congress Legislative Accomplishments document, which can be found here or in the February issue of narfe magazine.

Key accomplishments include preventing reductions in current retirees’ annuities (through a switch to the Chained CPI), defeating legislation adverse to the federal workforce (increased retirement contributions and reductions in federal workers’ benefits) and thwarting various damaging alterations to federal employees’ and retirees’ health benefits. NARFE also successfully prevented a misguided postal reform bill from getting consideration in the Senate. It included cuts that could have had an impact on the entire federal workforce.

NARFE also successfully supported positive bills for the federal community, including legislation ending the three-year pay freeze, adding “self plus one” coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) beginning in 2016, and extending the re-employed annuitant waiver authority.

Federal Retirees Receive COLA; Employees Receive Raise

A 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to federal retirement annuities and Social Security benefits took effect January 2, providing a modest, but welcome, New Year’s present for federal annuitants. The COLA was determined by the change in consumer prices, as measured by the CPI-W, between the third quarters of 2013 and 2014.

Effective January 11, federal employees will receive a 1 percent pay increase. While welcome, the increase lags behind private-sector pay increases. As a result, the gap between federal and private-sector pay, which now stands at 35 percent, will continue to grow.

2015 NARFE Legislative Training Conference

NARFE is hosting its biennial Legislative Training Conference in Arlington, VA, Saturday, March 14, through Tuesday, March 17. Join NARFE members from across the country for hands-on training opportunities to learn how to be a NARFE advocate. The conference will end with a trip to Capitol Hill, where you can meet with legislators and their staff to discuss the issues facing NARFE members. February 3 is the final day to register, so don’t delay. For more information, check out our Legislative Training Conference page here. From there, you can register online or mail in a registration form. Questions? Email the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org. We hope to see you there!

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