Pension Lawsuits Still In Play

Three lawsuits are now pending before the state Supreme Court that challenge the changes made by the state Legislature to RSA 100-A, the statute that deals with public employee pensions in New Hampshire. The SEA is one of the organizations involved in this litigation. Following are background and current status on all three cases:

AFT CASE (AFT et al v. NHRS): Filed in 2009 (filed by the American Federation of Teachers) in response to the 2007 (HB653) and 2008 (HB1645) so called “pension reform” measures implemented by the Legislature. In the AFT case, the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition (and other individual plaintiffs) challenge the constitutionality of: the elimination of the funding mechanism of the “special account,” which was used to pay cost-of-living increases to retirees; the transferring of $250 million out of the special account to reduce employer rates; the elimination of the yearly increase to the medical subsidy; and reducing the amounts earned by employees as counting as a “pensionable” benefit.

CURRENT STATUS: After some lengthy delays related to class recertification, the judge has agreed to an interlocutory appeal (basically an agreement between two parties on issues they’ll bring to the higher court) which sends the case to the Supreme Court. The appeal is on the docket at the Supreme Court.

NH3 CASE (PFFNH et al. v. State of NH): Filed in 2011 in response to HB2, which increased employee rates payable to NHRS by up to 2.5 percent. In January, Judge McNamara issued a favorable ruling that portions of this law are unconstitutional. At the same time, though, the judge ruled that the constitutional protection only applies to those employees with more than 10 years of service.

CURRENT STATUS: Both parties are appealing the decision (we will challenge the “vesting” portion), and the appeal is on the docket of the state Supreme Court.

NH4 CASE (PFFNH et al. v. State of NH):  Filed in February challenging the further changes called for by HB2: more “earnable compensation” changes; averaging/eliminating “extra and special duty pay”; increasing to five years the average fixed cost calculation; increasing the age requirement for Group II; and the repeal of the Group II accidental disability, gainful occupation exemption.

CURRENT STATUS: The Superior Court on Sept. 25 ordered both parties to file an interlocutory appeal for the court’s approval. Because the state petitioned to move the case to the Supreme Court, it’s responsible for filing it there.

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