State Rep. Manly Barton this legislative session will attempt to pass a bill that could help Jackson County in its fight against the Public Employees’ Retirement System to save benefits for many county retirees.

Thousands of hours are at stake for local retirees, and the retirement system has asked several county retirees to repay benefits.

PERS has argued certain time shouldn’t be credited to retirees because the county’s personnel policy was vague and did not comply with regulation, but county attorneys said it did comply and PERS doesn’t have authority to interpret county policies.

“What this bill would do is address who can interpret local personnel policy,” Barton said. “PERS made the decision just a few years ago that only they would be able to interpret what these personnel polices mean. There have been several court challenges, and even the attorney general doesn’t agree with PERS’ stance.”

Last year, Barton attempted an amendment on a Senate bill to address the issue, but it did not succeed.

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