Home Rule Petition on Selectmen's Agenda
The proposed article would ask town meeting members to petition legislators to pass a law allowing towns to bargain collectively for alternative retirement and health benefits for new employees.
Selectman Barry Greenfield will ask fellow board members tonight to place a home rule petition question on the Town Meeting warrant in May.
Selectmen meet at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
Greenfield said the question would ask the town to give selectmen authority to file a petition with the Legislature — asking lawmakers to pass legislation related to pensions and health insurance for new employees.
The law would allow towns to offer alternative retirement and health insurance benefits for new employees in collective bargaining with unions.
As it stands, retirement and health benefits are mandated by the state, the selectman said.
He and others in the state want to change that, so towns have options to offer pensions that they can afford, he said.
He expects Swampscott will be one of 10 to 20 other towns that will have this home rule petition article on their town warrant this spring.
If approved at town meeting, the article to file a petition would be "a baby step," he said, since it has no power in and of itself.
Here is a preliminary draft of the proposal:
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to file a petition with the General Court for special legislation as set forth below to allow the Town to provide new employees hired after the effective date of this act retirement and/or health insurance benefits outside of the provisions of Chapters 32 and 32B of the General Laws c. 32 and 32B; provided, however, that the General Court may make grammatical or editorial changes of form only to such bill, unless the Board of Selectmen approves amendments to the bill before enactment by the General Court, and that the Board of Selectmen is authorized to approve amendments which shall be within the scope of the general public objectives of the petition; or to act in any manner in relation thereto.
An Act relative to Retirement and Health Insurance Benefits in the Town of Swampscott
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4B of Chapter 4 or of Chapters 32 and 32B of the General Laws, or of any other general or special law to the contrary, the town of Swampscott shall have the option at the discretion of the board of selectmen of providing a retirement/pension plan and/or health insurance benefits to employees hired after the effective date of this Act, including health insurance to such employees upon retirement, on such terms and conditions as said board of selectmen determines to be fair, reasonable and equitable, and in the best interests of the town. Prior to providing such plans or benefits, said board of selectmen shall hold at least one public hearing, notice of which shall be provided in a newspaper of general circulation in the town in each of two weeks immediately prior to said hearing. Said retirement/pension plan and/or health insurance benefits shall be subject to bargaining under chapter 150E of the General laws for employees represented by employee organizations that are covered by said chapter. The Town may provide different premiums, contribution rates, plan designs, and/or retirement benefits to different groups or classes of employees.
SECTION 2. Section 1 shall not affect the health insurance or retirement benefits of employees or retirees that were employed for the Town prior to the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect ninety (90) days following its passage or upon the July 1st immediately following its passage, whichever date is later.