Nevada Legislature: Unions, Democrats oppose public employee board overhaul

Randy Kirner

Randy Kirner

Retirees, lobbyists and union representatives came out in droves Monday to testify against an Assembly bill that would add people who don’t work for the state to the governing board of Nevada’s public employee retirement program.

Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner introduced AB3 on Monday in the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs. The measure would bring the number of board members from seven to nine and specify that three members must be non-public employees appointed by the governor. The existing board is made up entirely of state employees.

Kirner said the bill was not an “indictment” of the board’s performance but an attempt to add objectivity and include outside members with knowledge of retirement plan funding. The Reno Republican said that many state boards include non-industry members and that including non-public employees would give taxpayers outside the system a chance to voice concerns.

“It’s intuitive to me that there should be general public representation on the board,” he said.

Public employees and union lobbyists hounded the proposal, calling it an unnecessary change that would diminish the voice of public employees. The board’s executive officer, Tina Leiss, opposed the bill and said the program was functioning smoothly and didn’t require any modifications.

“The retirement board believes the current governance structure is working very well and does not need to be changed,” she said in prepared testimony.

Opponents, including teachers, union members and public workers, referenced legislation from 1987 that established the current makeup of the board and removed two non-public employee members.

State treasurer Dan Schwartz submitted an amendment that would add the treasurer to the retirement board as a representative of taxpayers. Leiss told the committee that adding partisan elected positions to the board could run afoul of a state law that prohibits elected officials from serving on the board.


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