On Thursday, Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, introduced legislation to block private organizations from joining the state’s taxpayer-funded pension program.

House Commerce and Human Resources Committee members voted unanimously to introduce the bill, which allows further deliberations in coming days.

It’s a little known fact that a number of private lobbying organizations participate in the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI), the program that the state, most cities, counties, school districts and other units of Idaho government use to invest and administer retirement benefits for their workers. Among the private groups that participate in the pension system: the Idaho Education Association, the Idaho Association of Counties, the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Public Employees Association.

Harris’ bill wouldn’t boot those groups from the state pension system, nor would the legislation stop those organizations’ new hires from signing up for the government retirement program.

Instead, it would simply limit new private lobbying groups from signing on to the pension system.

The state’s pension system serves 775 employers; government entities comprise most of that figure. The programs boasts 68,517 active members and 44,181 retirees, according to the state’s most recent financial disclosure reports.  

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