Prior to the beginning of the last regular legislative session, TML created a legislative policy committee to study Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) issues.   The committee, and subsequently the entire TML membership and Board of Directors, voted to “seek introduction and passage” of legislation that would create additional, flexible cost of living adjustment (COLA) options under TMRS that are not retroactive to a retiree’s date of retirement, as are current COLAs.  

Those flexible, non-retroactive COLAs would simply be another tool in the city’s toolbox that would aid in offering COLAs to all city employees, including public safety employees.  Senate Bill 642, a TML bill, would have preserved a city’s ability to offer repeating COLAs in the same manner as they do today, while providing a further, less-expensive option during these tough economic times.

S.B. 642 had widespread support, but – oddly – it was met with strong resistance by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).  CLEAT chose to oppose the bill by citing fears that it would cause cities to turn off current repeating COLAs in favor of the new flexible, non-retroactive COLAs.  In fact, the likely result of S.B. 642 would have been the opposite: to encourage non-COLA cities to turn their COLAs back on. That was the League’s intent, at least.

CLEAT didn’t see it that way, however, and ultimately helped kill a bill that would have benefited every TMRS city by making cost of living adjustments more affordable.  League policy committees that meet during 2012 must think carefully about expending any further resources in the 2013 legislative session in support of flexible COLAs. And, cities that have turned their COLAs off might consider continuing that approach until CLEAT decides to get on board with a sensible compromise.

Click here to view CLEAT’s testimony in opposition to S.B. 642.

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.

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