Retirement Security a Focus of State Lawmaker Summit

State legislators from around the country are meeting in Seattle today, August 3, 2015 and one of the topics is how to help people save for retirement.

Both Washington and Oregon have taken steps this year to launch workplace savings plans for employees of small businesses.

At the National Conference of State Legislators Summit, AARP plans to encourage other states to do the same.

Elaine Ryan, AARP vice-president for state advocacy and strategy integration, says her message is that Congress can't be counted on to agree on a national plan, and states have a huge stake in their residents' financial security.

"If we don't help people find a way to save for their own futures, they will end up being a burden to government programs," she states. "Some of our polling shows that 82 percent of small businesses would offer retirement savings if it were simpler."

Washington's Small Business Retirement Marketplace is being developed now, with a start date of 2017.

Ryan says Illinois was the first state to create such a plan, Connecticut and Minnesota are looking into it, and Utah and Virginia are studying the effects of poverty in retirement.

A related issue is fees and commissions on retirement investments. Starting next week, the U.S. Labor Department takes public comments on a new Conflicts of Interest Rule, with stricter guidelines for financial advisers and insurance agents about acting in their clients' best interest.

Ryan says AARP supports the rule.

"We know those hidden fees erode people's lifetime retirement savings - as much as 25 percent could be lost in your lifetime of savings, to those types of fees," she points out.

The Labor Department says the current guidelines for retirement investment advice were passed in the 1970s, before IRAs or 401K plans had been created.

AARP has set up a Web page for people to comment on the Conflicts of Interest Rule proposal.

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