The 2023 Legislative Session ended on Friday, May 12, 2023, without any negative impact on the LAGERS. In total, more than 2,300 bills were filed with 41 bills crossing the finish line. Although LAGERS did not have any legislative priorities this session, the system tracked over 150 bills covering a wide range of issues from local government to retirement, to public safety. Two omnibus retirement packages were Truly Agreed to & Finally Passed. Both retirement packages contained numerous clean-up provisions affecting other public retirement systems but did not have any direct impact on LAGERS. No other bills with a negative impact on LAGERS passed.
Below is a summary of a few of the Truly Agreed provisions of interest.
Senior Tax Relief – One of the more notable successes of the session was a significant tax package for seniors passed in Senate Bill 190. Although there is no direct impact to the LAGERS system, the bill would provide two major financial benefits to Missouri retirees. Firstly, the bill would allow any Missouri county to approve a tax credit for eligible seniors which would stop tax increases to a primary homestead. To qualify, an individual must be eligible for Social Security and reside in a county that has approved the credit. The provision was designed to protect Missouri seniors from being taxed out of their homes due to inflation of property values.
The second provision expands certain retirement tax deductions. Current law allows taxpayers with certain filing status and adjusted gross income below certain thresholds to deduct certain retirement and Social Security benefits from the taxpayer’s Missouri adjusted gross income, with a reduced deduction as the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income increases. For all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024, this act would allow the maximum deduction to all taxpayers regardless of filing status or adjusted gross income. This would apply to Social Security and public pension benefits, including LAGERS.
*This information shall not be construed as tax advice. Please consult your tax professional with any questions about your individual tax situation.
First Responder Definition – A provision within Senate Bill 24 and 186 modifies the definition of first responder within Missouri state statute to redefine dispatchers as “telecommunicator first responders.” The intent of this legislation is to enhance recruiting and retention of these positions by acknowledging the nature of the work performed.
Although this provision does slightly adjust the terminology in LAGERS’ governing statutes, it does not materially impact benefits or benefit eligibility under LAGERS. In 2019, the General Assembly approved a bill adding the option for an employer to classify emergency telecommunicators as public safety for the determination of retirement eligibility in LAGERS. Each employer has this local option on how they choose to classify these positions for purposes of LAGERS.
Task Force One Reemployment Rights- Another provision of Senate Bill 24 provides that Missouri Task Force One members be entitled to initial employment rights, re-employment rights, retention in employment rights, promotion rights, and discrimination protections as provided by federal law (USERRA) for members of the military.
LAGERS has a long-standing practice of coding any member’s leave of absence due to a Task Force One deployment as military leave. Under LAGERS’ current policy members continue to accrue benefits and are not penalized for their deployment. The new provisions in SB 24 would not have any further impact on LAGERS benefit eligibility but, align well with LAGERS’ existing policy for this type of service.
New Sheriffs Ineligible for LAGERS – As part of a funding package for the Sheriff’s Retirement System, clarifying language was added requiring all new sheriffs after January 1, 2024, be enrolled in the Sheriff’s Retirement System regardless if their county participates in LAGERS. The language prohibits a sheriff’s participation in multiple retirement plans simultaneously. This legislation will not impact any current sheriff already participating in LAGERS.
These provisions now head to the Governor’s desk where he has until July 14 to either sign or veto the bill. Any bill not receiving a signature or veto by this date automatically become law on August 28, 2023, unless otherwise provided for by law.