SALEM - On Feb. 6, the Oregon House of Representatives approved a bill carried by Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego, that reforms the board of directors of the Public Employees Retirement System.

The bill, HB 2005, reduces the 12-member PERS board to five, and requires its members to act for the benefit of the whole retirement system, not just on behalf of the groups they represent - public employees or employers. One member must be a manager or an elected official in state or local government, and another must belong to a collective-bargaining unit that represents public employees. None of the remaining three members may be a member or a beneficiary of PERS, but all three must have experience in business management, pension management, or investing. One of the board members will serve on the Oregon Investment Council, which oversees investment of PERS assets, thus ensuring coordination between management of investments and other PERS operations.

The House passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support, 58-1. The bill now goes to the Senate.

"The spirit of HB 2005 is to make a fresh start," Macpherson said. "We are in the process of building a new retirement plan for Oregon's public employees. Part of that process is installing a board, a majority of which does not stand to benefit personally from its decisions."

With this provision, the state prevents even the appearance that the board might compromise its judgments by acting in its members' self-interests, said Macpherson, who also serves on the legislative PERS Committee.

"In its current form, PERS fails to achieve either of these goals. We must fashion a system that works for everyone - the Oregonians who provide these vital services, and the Oregonians who pay for them."

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