Thursday, April 1, 2021

Members Gain Insight Into Legislative Session

TEXPERS Returns to In-person Gatherings With Legislative Workshop

TEXPERS Board President Paul Brown, left, and lobbyist Eddie Solis.

TEXPERS Staff Report

The Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems conducted a Legislative Workshop for its System Members on March 30 and 31 in Austin. The educational event was the association's first in-person gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

During the workshop, 29 representatives of local government pension plans were introduced to the legislative process, updated on legislation that potentially affects public employee pensions, and offered advice on advocating for secure retirements. Twelve attendees included speakers, event sponsors, and TEXPERS staff. 

"We couldn't have hosted this event without the support of our sponsors: Platinum sponsor Rastegar and Silver sponsors Entrust Global, PFM, BLB&G, and Sage," says Art Alfaro, executive director of TEXPERS.

Paul Brown, president of TEXPERS' board of directors and chairperson of the association's Legislative Committee, highlighted several bills filed this legislative session that could potentially impact public pensions. He was joined by Eddie Solis, an Austin-based lobbyist with HillCo Partners. Click here to access a link to bills the association is tracking this legislative session.

Bob Smith, president and chief investment officer of Sage Advisory, also spoke during the workshop. He discussed the challenges of public pension plan funding. A copy of his presentation is available here 

Bob Smith, president and chief investment officer at Sage Advisory.

Maritza Kelley, director of external affairs for PFM. also offered tips pension systems can take to advocate for secure retirement at the state and local government levels.

Maritza Kelley, director of external affairs for PFM.

Attendees also received a copy of TEXPERS' 2021 Legislative Guide. Each legislative session TEXPERS prepares the guide for its members to share with their district lawmakers. The publication is a primer on the ins and outs of public pensions. To access a digital version of the guide, click here.

TEXPERS set up the two-day event with the health of attendees in mind. Association staff set up a conference room to adhere to social distancing. No more than four people were allowed to sit at each of the large round tables in the room.

Held at the DoubleTree hotel in Downtown Austin, hotel staff placed hand sanitizer dispensers at each entrance and exit to the conference room in addition to dispensers made available throughout the hotel. The hotel staff also ensured surfaces throughout the hotel received hospital-grade disinfecting. Protective masks also were required to be worn in common areas.

"Initial feedback has been extremely positive regarding attendees' comfort level with being at an in-person event," Alfaro says.

The majority of the workshop attendees are first responders or have retired from jobs in that field and were among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas. As the association prepares to host its Annual Conference in late May, Alfaro hopes members continue to obtain vaccines and will be anxious to return to the association's in-person gatherings to be held in May and August. 

Back to Business

TEXPERS' board of directors canceled its training, Annual Conference, and Summer Educational Forum in 2020 due to the pandemic. TEXPERS staff created online educational opportunities so its members could continue to earn continuing education training hours required by the state's Pension Review Board. The state mandates the agency to oversee all Texas public retirement systems at the state and local level regarding their actuarial soundness and compliance with state law. 

This year, TEXPERS is returning to in-person training for new and continuing trustees of public retirement systems. Basic Trustee Training, which fulfills the requirement of the Pension Review Board's Minimum Education and Training Program for new trustees, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST on Saturday, May 22. Advanced Trustee Training, offering PRB-approved training for tenured trustees, will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. CST that Saturday. Basic and Advanced training courses take place at the Austin Marriott Downtown at 304 E. Cesar Chavez St.

To register for Basic Trustee Training, click here. To register for Advanced Trustee Training, click here. To learn more about TEXPERS' trustee continuing education programming, click here to visit our website.

TEXPERS' 2021 Annual Conference will be held Sunday, May 23, through Wednesday, May 26, in Austin. The Annual Conference is the association's most attended event and offers focused workshops designed around current pension industry topics and trends regarding fund management and investment issues. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here

The TEXPERS Summer Educational Forum will be held in San Antonio from Sunday, Aug. 29, through Tuesday, Aug. 31. Registration isn't open yet but click here to learn more about the event.

TEXPERS is a statewide nonprofit educational association organized in 1989. Members are trustees, administrators, professional service providers, employee groups, and associations engaged or interested in the management of public employee retirement systems. TEXPERS' member systems and employee group members represent 2.3 million active and retired public employees with assets totaling nearly $89 billion.

Follow TEXPERS on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website for the latest news about Texas' public pension industry.

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