P>The House Committee on Education and the Workforce recently moved pension reform
legislation one step closer to approval by the Pension Protection Act (H.R.
2830). The measure was approved in a 27-to-0 vote, with all committee Republicans
voting in favor, and all committee Democrats merely voting "present."
The Act includes new funding requirements to ensure that employers adequately
and consistently fund their pension plans, and provides workers in single and
multi-employer plans with better information about the financial status of their
pension plans. It
also protects taxpayers from a
potential multibillion-dollar bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
to Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio).
In addition, Boehner said the bill:
- Requires employers to meet a
100 percent funding target,
- Prohibits the use of credit
balances for severely
- Phases in increases in
employer premiums paid
to the PBGC,
- Allows employers to give
access to high-quality
investment advice, and
- Includes numerous reforms
to multi-employer pension
plans governed by collective bargaining agreements to
give trustees additional tools
to fund their benefit promises.
The committee approved a substitute amendment offered by Boehner.
For all defined benefit plans, the amendment establishes a simple
age discrimination standard that
clarifies current law regarding
age discrimination requirements under ERISA on a prospective
basis, he said.
Under the measure, employers are also prohibited from reducing or cutting any
vested benefits that workers have earned during a conversion to a cash balance
plan. The House's Ways and Means Committee was also reviewing the legislation
at press time.