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4/6/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Rail retirement legislation gains Senate companion bill


The Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 April 5 moved to the Senate as S. 697, a companion bill to H.R. 1140.
S. 697 was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Max Baucus, D-Mont., with 34 co-sponsors.
"I fully expect, based on the strong bipartisan support for this legislation, to see this bill signed into law this year," said Hatch in a prepared statement.
As of April 5, H.R. 1140 obtained 280 co-sponsors, closing in on the veto-proof level of 290 co-sponsors.
In enacted, the legislation would provide full retirement annuity at age 60 (instead of age 62) after 30 years of service, eliminate artificial caps on benefits, establish new-employee vesting in the Railroad Retirement System after five years (instead of 10 years), and raise a widow’s Tier II annuities to equal those annuities paid by Social Security (current law sets a widow’s Tier II annuity at 50 percent of a retiree’s Tier II annuity).
The bill also would allow the railroad pension to be invested in a mix of public and private securities.
"By permitting the investment of some of those funds in a diversified portfolio of private equities, bonds and government securities, this legislation gives railroad employees the same investment opportunities enjoyed by other private industries," said Edward Hamberger, president and chief executive officer of Association of American Railroads.
The House adjourned April 5 for the Spring District Work period, to be followed by the Senate April 6. Congress is scheduled to reconvene April 23.


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