OregonSaves Moves Forward Despite Uncertainty

Amid uncertainty at the federal level, on April 18, 2017, the Oregon Retirement Savings Board issued the Permanent Rules of the Oregon Retirement Savings Program, commonly called OregonSaves. In doing so, the State of Oregon took another step towards implementing a state retirement program for private employers who do not already sponsor a retirement plan for their employees.

Until recently, states were reluctant to create such programs because of their uncertain status under ERISA. In stepped the Department of Labor which, under the Obama administration, passed a regulation titled “Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees” or what I call SAESNE. The regulation declares that such programs are not subject to ERISA provided certain requirements are met. According to SAESNE, five states (including Oregon) have passed legislation intended to establish a state retirement program for private employers as of October 2016.1

President Trump and the Republican-controlled House and Senate could repeal SAESNE by using a process outlined in the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that allows overrule of new regulations upon a joint resolution of the House and Senate then signed by the President. The Trump administration applied the Congressional Review Act thirteen times in its first 100 days. Among the items repealed was a Department of Labor regulation similar to SAESNE, but aimed at retirement plans created by large municipalities for private sector employees.2

Time is running out to repeal SAESNE. Regulations can be repealed under the Act only if the repeal process is completed within 60 legislative days of the regulation’s implementation. The deadline to repeal SAESNE is May 9.3 In February, the House voted 231-193 to repeal SAESNE.4 The proposal to repeal the regulation governing municipal sponsored plans narrowly passed the Senate with 50 votes in favor and 49 against.5 Although likely that a Senate vote on SAESNE would garner the same votes as the municipal regulation, it is not a certainty.

In the meantime, Oregon has forged ahead with its own state-sponsored plan and rules requiring employers of 100 or more employees to register with the state (or claim an exemption) by November 15, 2017 and begin enrolling employees for participation no later than January 14, 2018. Smaller employers are scheduled to begin participating in stages over the following two years with the smallest employers (four or fewer employees) slated to register by November 15, 2019.

You can read about OregonSaves at this website: http://www.oregon.gov/retire/Pages/index.aspx.

The Permanent Rules of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board can be viewed here:


1 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/08/30/2016-20639/savings-arrangements-established-by-states-for-non-governmental-employees
2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/04/25/why-republicans-100-day-war-on-obama-is-about-to-end/?utm_term=.9390f796a1c9
3 http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/04/27/clock-ticking-on-resolution-to-roll-back-safe-harb?page=2&slreturn=1493663097
4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Review_Act
5 http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/04/27/clock-ticking-on-resolution-to-roll-back-safe-harb?slreturn=1493663097
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