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Treasurer Magaziner, legislators and hospital retirees call for end to loophole allowing "church run" pensions to hide information from members

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today will join legislative leaders to testify in support of legislation that would require pension plans managed by religious organizations in Rhode Island to send regular updates on the financial health of the pensions to their plan participants.

"There are thousands of Rhode Islanders, including more than 2,700 current and retired employees of St. Joseph's and Our Lady of Fatima hospitals, who have been kept in the dark regarding the health of their pension plan because of this loophole," said Treasurer Magaziner. "Church plans should be required to be transparent with their members, just like other pension plans."

Until all pension plans in Rhode Island are required to provide this information, there remains a risk that other church-run pension plans could conceal vital financial information from plan members. Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi have introduced the legislation in their respective chambers, with public hearings scheduled for this afternoon.

"All Rhode Island workers and retirees deserve to know the truth about their health of their pension plan," said Senate President Ruggerio. "Too many hard-working caregivers and health professionals, who spent their careers serving their communities, have been hurt by a lack of transparency. We must ensure that this never happens again."

The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires most private pension plans to send members a letter each year outlining the health of their plan. Pension plans administered by religious organizations claim exemption from both ERISA and GASB reporting standards. Members of these plans often have no ability to access information regarding the financial health of their pensions.

"This common-sense legislation will ensure members and retirees of all Rhode Island pension plans have information about the health of their pension plans," said House Majority Leader Shekarchi. "It is the members of these pension plans, many of whom have spent decades serving their community, who are directly impacted. Members and retirees have a right to know about the health of their plan."

This afternoon at 4:30 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are holding separate public hearings on this legislation.

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Contact: Evan England, Director of Communications (401) 222-2240 | (401) 439-2199 (mobile)

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  • Department or agency: Office of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner
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  • Release date: 04-09-2019

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