Once a year the ASEA board invites all members to join them (in-person or virtually) to discuss and prioritize our short- and long-term goals for the coming year. To lead off the meeting Director Kay Barnhill of The Office of Personnel Management, began the meeting by providing us with an overview of the draft pay plan that they have been working on to be presented in the upcoming legislation session (January 2023). Director Barnhill stressed that there will be a lot of factors that have to fall into place when you talk about a large price tag like adopting a new pay plan. First, we will have a new Governor in January and he/she will have to be willing to green light this project along with the state Representatives and Senators. That is where ASEA must go to work to gain support for passing a new pay plan. Top Priority Funding a New Pay Plan. Members discussed and voted to make the passage of a new pay plan that creates new minimum and maximum levels and allows for tenure adjustments based on years of service our number one priority. Given that this could potentially cost $41 million members voted to shorten our list of 2023 legislative goals to not appear to be overreaching. Pass Reducing FOI for State Employees. With the rise of identity theft members feel that having their full name and salary on the internet gives predators a head-start in collecting information needed to commit fraud. Removing the full first name of an employee to the first letter would reduce the risk of identity theft. Adding Juneteenth as a State Employee Holiday. With Juneteenth already recognized as a federal holiday, members are encouraging the state to adopt Juneteenth as a state employee holiday. Research Further Retiree Pension Cost of Living Adjustment Increase. This was referred to ASEA’ Retiree Benefits sub-committee for further discussion. Most members referred to the 2019 legislation that would change the current fixed 3% COLA to a floating COLA that follows the CPI index and could also be zero in certain economic bad times. This legislation was withdrawn after a lengthy period of advocacy and there is concern that bringing the COLA up again could ultimately have a negative impact. Unused Annual/Sick Leave Payout Cap Upon Retirement. Members agreed that having unused annual and sick leave upon retirement means that you were an exemplary, dedicated employee of the state of Arkansas. The concern that needs research first before moving forward is to see if removing the cap altogether would have a negative impact on future merit raises and performance pay or would it be more prudent to increase the percentage of the cap gradually. Do Not Pass Adding Good Friday as a State Employee Holiday. See commentary below. Bereavement Leave. Members had two concerns for both requests. First, with such a large cost of passing a potential new pay plan and with that being our top priority members to shorten our list of legislative goals for 2023. Lastly, many members stated they did not want to bring up adding multiple leave/holidays to the benefits package that it could potentially backfire and have a negative impact on the amount of state employee leave. Potential Legislation on our Radar. Mileage Reimbursement. Representative David Ray of Maumelle approached ASEA stating he is filing a bill for introduction in the 2023 session that would make the rate of mileage reimbursement pay equal to that of elected officials going forward. Of course, we applaud and endorse Representative Ray’s efforts and will support him leading into and during the session to ensure safe passage of the bill. Maternity Leave. Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio also reached out to ASEA to let us know she is interested in introducing legislation that will expand paid maternity leave. That is all the information we have to date, and we look forward to our future discussions.