Vermont Passes Bill to Implement State-Run Retirement Plan for Private-Sector

The bill would implement a voluntary retirement program for businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

By Rebecca Moore | July 13, 2017

Vermont Governor Phil Scott has signed an infrastructure bill that includes a provision directing the state to study and implement the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan, a voluntary retirement program for businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

According to text of the bill, the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan will be a multiple employer plan (MEP) that automatically enrolls employees while giving them the choice to opt out. The plan will be funded by employee contributions, with an option for future voluntary employer contributions.

A committee has been set up to develop recommendations for the design, creation and implementation of the plan, and has been tasked with reporting to the State General Assembly on or before January 15, 2018.

The bill says the state will implement the MEP on or before January 15, 2019. In a statement, Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce said, “Every Vermonter deserves an opportunity for a lifetime of financial wellbeing. The passage of this bill will allow the State to make substantive steps towards implementing a voluntary retirement program for Vermonters who currently lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. This program will broaden the opportunity for more Vermonters to be better prepared for retirement and in doing so strengthen the economic vitality of our State.”

Last year, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules offering a safe harbor from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for state-run plans for private-sector employees. However, Earlier this year, Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed resolutions to roll back the regulatory safe harbors, so the DOL removed its regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations.

Nonetheless, several states are moving forward with their versions of such retirement plans, including Washington, Oregon and California.