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Heitkamp unveils bill to support pension plans

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., talks about healthcare reform to members of the Bismarck Lions Club at a luncheon held Aug. 14, 2017. Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp unveiled a bill Tuesday, Nov. 21, to provide financing to ensure 2,000 North Dakotans who have paid into the Central States Pension Plan can keep their retirement savings.

Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced the bill that she helped write at the Bismarck Teamsters Union hall. Her office noted the government-sponsored insurance company for multiemployer pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., is projected to become insolvent by 2025.

"These workers and retirees followed the rules and did everything right. They worked for years, if not decades, in jobs that took tolls on their bodies, saving for retirement the whole way and expecting those savings to be there for them," Heitkamp said in a statement. "Now, through no fault of their own, the rug will be pulled out from under them."

The Central States Pension Fund covers workers and retirees in the trucking, UPS package delivery and grocery supply industries, according to Heitkamp's office. Across the country, 400,000 retirees have paid into the plan.

The Butch Lewis Act would prevent cuts to retiree benefits and put in place safeguards "so pension plans remain strong so they will be there for today's workers when they retire," the senator's office said. It would allow the Treasury Department to loan money to pension plans.

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