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Breaking News! Court ruling in CalFire v CalPERS Monday, 3/4/2019

This coming Monday, March 4, 2019, at 10AM, the CA Supreme Court will file its opinion in CalFire Local 2881 v. CalPERS.

There have been a few notices of this decision date, but I found this one (below) from Horvitz & Levy’s “At the Lectern” to be especially helpful because it contains links to all five similar cases, including MAPE v. MCERA., at 10 AM, 3/4/2019.

If the ruling upholds the lower court’s decision, modifications to future pension benefits would be allowed. Public sector unions have long held that no pension benefit could be withdrawn without replacing it with a comparable benefit, per The California Rule.

This excerpt from the Retirement Security Initiative gives an account of what might result from the ruling:

What happens next?

If there is a broad ruling, then the door will be open to reform of the current system. The California Rule is often put forward as the basis for blocking public pension reform in other states, even though few have formally adopted it. For instance, in Kentucky, the argument of the Attorney General against recently passed pension reform by the legislature is based on applying the California Rule.

Should there be a narrow decision, then two other cases, Marin Association of Public Employees v. Marin County Employees' Retirement Association and one in Alameda, Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association et al. v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Association, also pending in the Supreme Court, will proceed. Each of these cases challenges the current interpretation of the California Rule and the ability to modify future pension benefits not yet earned.


This is the first glimmer of hope we have witnessed in decades. A favorable ruling would allow government agencies to avoid insolvency and ever-increasing hikes in taxes, rates and fees – IF they are strong enough to stand up to public sector unions in negotiations.

If they are not, vote them out.

Jody - CSPP

Pension, sales tax refund opinions filing Monday: by Horvitz & Levy

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 11:39 AM PST

As expected, the Supreme Court on Monday morning will file its opinions in and McClain v. Sav-On Drugs, the last two undecided cases from the December calendar. (Briefs here; oral argument videos here.)

Both cases have attracted lots of amicus briefs — 16 in McClain.

Cal Fire raises these questions: (1) Was the option to purchase additional service credits pursuant to Government Code section 20909 (known as “airtime service credits”) a vested pension benefit of public employees enrolled in CalPERS? (2) If so, did the Legislature’s withdrawal of this right through the enactment of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) (Gov. Code, §§ 7522.46, 20909, subd. (g)), violate the contracts clauses of the federal and state Constitutions? Second District, Division Seven, Justice Laurie Zelon is the pro tem.

Cal Fire is one of several high-profile pension matters pending before the court. (See here, here, here, here, and here.) Then-Governor Jerry Brown specifically asked the court to expedite the case.

McClain will decide whether a purchaser of products allegedly exempt from sales tax but for which the retailer collected sales tax reimbursement can bring an action to compel the retailer to seek a sales tax refund from the State Board of Equalization and remit the proceeds to purchasers? Fourth District, Division Three, Presiding Justice Kathleen O’Leary is the pro tem.