Dear CJA Members:
I’m pleased to announce that two CJA sponsored bills were introduced yesterday, AB 979 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes and SB 430 by Senator Bob Wieckowski. These bills fulfill the pledge CJA made to members to pursue meaningful, realistic and positive judicial pension reform for all judges whether you are under JRS II or PEPRA (Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act), meaning sworn-in after 2013.
The highlights of AB 979 called
Judicial Retirement System Reform Act
- Address the harsh cliff-vesting under JRS II by giving judges the ability to defer their retirement,
- Provide judges with the option of an early retirement when they reach age 63 with 15 years of service,
- Address the inequalities in the employee contribution rates under PEPRA, and
- Offer retirement protection for judges who lose their election and have no pending disciplinary action from the CJP.
SB 430 will:
- Address the unfair result of the six judges who were elected in 2012 but were unable to take office until 2013, thus subjecting them to the new PEPRA system. This is a redo of AB 837 from 2014 which then-Assemblymember Wieckoswki authored but which was ultimately vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
CJA appreciates the efforts of Asm. Reyes and Sen. Wieckoswki in carrying these bills. We are also grateful for the hard work of our legislative advocates Mike Belote and Erinn Ryberg, the members of the Pension Reform Work Group appointed by former CJA President Stuart Rice and led by Judge Bill Highberger, the members of CJA’s Compensation and Benefits Committee, co-chaired by Judge Eric Taylor and Judge Dean Hansell, CJA’s pension expert Jim Niehaus, and to all our members who have provided input and support to advance pension reform legislation. We believe the legislation achieves critical public policy goals, including protecting judicial independence and providing the public with consistently high caliber candidates for judicial service.
The bills will likely be heard in their first policy committee in April. Soon CJA will communicate with the membership with details about our legislative strategy during the first phase of the legislative process and how you can get involved in this historic effort.