Retiree COLA Bill Survives Deadline

“The OPEA Retiree COLA bill has passed through the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives,” announced OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley.

The measure, sponsored by Senator John Sparks, D-Norman, provides a four percent retiree cost-of-living-adjustment, which is desperately needed for OPERS retirees.

“The cost of living has escalated dramatically since 2006, when retirees last received a COLA,” said Zearley. “Retirees are suffering from the staggering cost of gasoline, food and other necessities it takes just to survive.”

OPEA was disappointed in action taken in Senate Committee, when the language that allows an automatic two-percent annual COLA was taken out of the bill. Senator Sparks told OPEA that the only way for the bill to get enough support was to take the title off the bill and to remove automatic COLA language.

“OPEA is dedicated to taking the politics out of retiree COLAs,” said Zearley. “We will be putting this language back into the bill on the House side and sending this legislation to a conference committee. It is simply the right thing for retirees and would help with the peaks and valleys they experience with election-year COLAs.”

The measure will now be assigned to a House Committee for consideration. Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Bixby is the House author for the measure. Rep. Peterson is the Chairman of the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee and should have this bill assigned to his committee, which will help move it through the process quickly.

“OPERS retirees should all plan to attend OPEA Retiree Lobby Day on April 23,” said OPEA Retiree Council Chair Lynne Bussell. “We must get the automatic COLA back on the table. Retirees should not have to beg for a COLA and the issue must be taken out of election year politics.”

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