(b) Directions on the completion of the voter registration application form, including a direction that the special registration deputy shall affix to the form his or her printed name, signature and identification number, and a direction that the information on the form shall be legible;
(c) Review of the applicable statutory deadlines for submitting an application to register to vote;
(d) Directions on the treatment of confidential voter information and on the handling of proof of residence documents received from an applicant;
(e) Review of the deadlines and procedures for delivering the completed voter registration form to the appointing authority;
(f) Information on the consequences of failing to follow the prescribed procedures for registering voters;
(g) Information on the provisions of s. 12.13 (3) (ze), Stats., prohibiting compensation of special registration deputies according to the number of registration forms collected;
(h) Information on the criminal sanctions applicable to the misuse of appointment of special registration deputies;
(i) Any other information prescribed by the board.
3.13 Revocation of special registration deputy appointment. (1) Under s. 6.26 (2) (b), Stats., an appointing authority may, for cause, decline to appoint an applicant as a special registration deputy, or may revoke the appointment of an existing special registration deputy.
(2) Cause to deny or to revoke an appointment means that one or more of the following circumstances applies to the applicant or special registration deputy:
(a) The applicant or special registration deputy lacks the qualifications of an election official as set forth in s. 7.30 (2), Stats.;
(b) The applicant or special registration deputy fails to attend training sessions scheduled by the appointing authority;
(c) The applicant or special registration deputy has previously had an appointment revoked for cause;
(d) The applicant or special registration deputy fails to adhere to procedures established by the appointing authority, including submission of completed voter registration application forms in the time and manner prescribed by the appointing authority;
(e) The applicant or special registration deputy falsifies, fails to submit, or wrongfully suppresses, a voter registration application form or otherwise commits official misconduct.
3.20 Voter registration drives. (1) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives shall use the voter registration application form (EB-131) prescribed by the board.
(2) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives may not retain the following voter registration information: the date of birth, driver's license number, department of transportation identification number, or last four digits of the social security number of an individual completing a voter registration application form.
(3) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives may utilize special registration deputies to assist in the collection of voter registration application forms.
(4) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives that do not utilize special registration deputies to assist in the collection of voter registration application forms shall collect a copy of the required forms of proof of residence for first-time voters and submit the copy to the appointing authority with the completed voter registration application form.
(5) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives may not retain a copy of any form of proof of residence collected from an individual.
(6) Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives may not pay any individual collecting voter registration application forms compensation based on the number of registration forms collected as proscribed in s. 12.13 (3)(ze), Stats.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
The creation of this rule does not affect business.
Fiscal Estimate
The creation of this rule has no fiscal effect.
Contact Person
George A. Dunst
Legal Counsel, State Elections Board
17 West Main Street
P.O. Box 2973
Madison, Wisconsin 53701-2973
Phone 266-0136
Notice of Hearing
Employee Trust Funds
A public hearing on this proposed rule will be held on July 12, 2007, at 9:00 AM in Conference Room GB at the offices of the Department of Employee Trust Funds, 801 West Badger Road, Madison, Wisconsin. Attendees should come to the reception desk up the stairs (or the elevator) from the main building entrance for escort to the conference room.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Employee Trust Funds
1. Statute interpreted: Section 40.285, Stats.
2. Statutory authority: Sections 40.03 (2) (i), 40.285 (2) (a) 3., and (b) 1. d. and 5., (4) (c) and (5) (c), and 227.11 (2) (a), Stats.
3. Explanation of agency authority: By statute, the DETF Secretary is expressly authorized, with Board approval, to promulgate rules required for the efficient administration of any benefit plan established in ch. 40 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Each state agency may promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of any statute enforced or administered by the agency, if the agency considers it necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute. The Legislature has expressly required the Department to specify, by rule, how the purchase of service credit for previously forfeited service will be prorated when more than one category of employment is involved and credit for less that all the previously forfeited service is purchased. In addition, the Legislature has mandated that the Department shall establish by rule different rates for different categories of participants who purchase credit for other governmental service, based upon factors recommended by the actuary.
4. Related statute or rule: Section 40.285, Stats.
5. Plain language analysis:
This rule-making supplements and interprets the re-codification of the statutes governing the purchase of creditable service under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). The law governing the WRS allows participating employees to purchase credit under the WRS for six different kinds of service: previously forfeited service, other governmental service, previous executive service not credited because of over-62 age restrictions, a 6-month uncredited qualifying period, teacher improvement leave and uncredited junior teaching service. Existing Administrative Code provisions apply to service purchases generally (Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.14), the purchase of forfeited service (§ ETF 20.15), qualifying service (§ ETF 20.16) and other governmental service (§ ETF 20.18). All of these existing administrative rules are repealed by this rule-making.
In July 2003, 2003 Wis. Act 33 created a new s. 40.285, Stats., that revised and combined all the former statutes concerning the purchase of service credits. In the process, the former ss. 40.02 (17) (b), (e), (i), and (k) and 40.25 (5) and (6), Stats., were eliminated, either by renumbering or repeal. Subsequently, in April 2006, 2005 Wis. Act 154 amended Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (4) (d) regarding the role of funds received for the purchase of other governmental service in calculating WRS death benefits and money purchase retirement benefits.
Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.14 was created effective January 1, 1997, and § ETF 20.18 was created effective July 1, 1995. Neither has been amended by the Department since then. Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.15 and 20.16 were both created during 1982 and were most recently amended effective January 1, 1997.
This rulemaking deletes language and policies incorporated in these rules that have been superseded by subsequent legislation or which have otherwise become obsolete due to changes in the applicable law. In their place, the rule-making creates a new Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.17 uniting the rules covering all purchases of creditable service into one code provision.
Service Credit Purchases; Generally.
Under Wis. Stat. § 40.285, a participating employee may purchase credit in the WRS for six different kinds of service. Such service credit purchases both increase the creditable service used to calculate a formula annuity and also increase the account balance in the employee's required contribution account. Except for amounts received to purchase other governmental service, these additional funds increase the value of the participating employee's money purchase pension benefit.
(a) Defining terms.
In § ETF 20.17 (2), the proposed rule defines key terms. All definitions are based on the present Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.18 (2) (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). The phrases “At the time of application" and “date of application" are defined consistent with § ETF 10.82 (1), to which reference is added. The definitions of the remaining terms, “current earnings," “military service," “money purchase balance," and “other governmental service," are substantially similar to the current definitions, except for necessary cross-reference corrections and some minor clarifications.
The rule-making also makes technical amendments to the existing definition of the term “three continuous years of creditable service" in Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 10.01 (7). This is a statutory pre-requisite to eligibility for purchasing credit for either forfeited service or other governmental service.
(b) Estimates, applications and final calculations.
As provided by this rule, the Department will upon request prepare a combination estimate and application form to be used to make the purchase. After the completed application and actual payment is received, the DETF will audit the transaction and, if necessary, recalculate the amount due. Such adjustments may be necessary, for example, if an estimate was prepared during one year and the employee submits the application later, after a change in the employee's compensation has occurred. \
This rule-making eliminates the limits on how much may be paid into the retirement system found in the current Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.14 (1) and (2) (a) 1. The limits were based on now obsolete provisions of § 415(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. The sources of permissible funds to use to make the service credit purchase are also expanded from current rules, in accord with the latest federal tax laws.
(c) Deadline for applying.
Because only a “participating employee" may buy credit for service under Wis. Stat. § 40.285, the completed application must be received at the DETF before the employee terminates participating employment. A special provision establishes the deadline for a retired employee who holds a second participating position as a part-time elected official and “opts out" of WRS coverage with respect to that part-time position as permitted under Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (1) (am) 2. The treatment under the rule is consistent with that statute and establishing when the person ceases to be a participating employee.
(d) Rejection of ineligible, unpaid and incomplete applications.
An application for service credits the applicant is not entitled to buy must be rejected. Late applications must be rejected. Generally, applications not accompanied by payment-in-full must also be rejected. However, there are some exceptions. The applicant may use voluntary additional contributions already in the participant's WRS account, including §403(b) funds, as part of the payment. Alternatively, the applicant may pay a required 10% down-payment and arrange to transfer the remainder from another qualifying benefit plan, as permitted by federal tax laws, within 90 days. An application that remains incomplete for more than 90 days may be rejected, at the Department's discretion. If the Department underestimated the actual final cost of the service purchase, the applicant may cancel the transaction, or pay the balance due. The Department allows participants in this situation who have already begun to receive their WRS pensions to pay the balance due out of one of the next monthly annuity payments. At present, that option exists only for purchases of credit for forfeited or other governmental service. This rule will expand that option to all types of service purchase and also allow the balance to be deducted from a lump sum paid in lieu of a retirement annuity.
(e) Effects of buying service credit.
This rule-making clarifies the long-standing DETF policy that buying credit for service simply adds the amount of service credit purchased to the person's total creditable service, going forward, for the sole purpose of calculating a formula annuity benefit under Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2) (b) or (2m) (e), or making other formula annuity calculations in that manner such as for disability annuity benefits or special death benefits under Wis. Stat. § 40.63 (8) or 40.73 (1) (c), respectively. Buying creditable service has no retroactive effect and therefore does not do any of the following:
  Undo any effects of the requirement of Wis. Stat. § 40.25 (3) that a person who takes a separation benefit must thereafter be treated as a new employee for all ch. 40 purposes upon subsequent employment by a participating employer.
  Establish an earlier date of participation or restore an account as though it had never been closed.
  Restore or entitle the purchaser to any benefits or rights associated with being a participant in the WRS or a member of any predecessor retirement system, at the time the services for which credit is being purchased were actually performed.
  Establish any creditable service in, or for, any particular year.
  Circumvent the statutory limit of 1.0 years of creditable service for any annual earnings period.
Under s. 40.23 (2m) (e) 1. to 4., Stats., higher multipliers are used to calculate formula annuity benefits based on pre-2000 creditable service. In s. ETF 20.17 (1) (j), this rule-making cross-references the treatment of purchased service credits for that purpose, as provided by Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.19 (2). In addition, Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (em) 1. a. provides that any service forfeited by taking a separation benefit prior to January 1, 2000, will be treated as pre-2000 service if a service credit is purchased under Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (2) (a). This rule-making amends the existing Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.19 (2) (c) to clarify this treatment and expands the existing rule that covers situations in which a participant purchases service credit for forfeited service, forfeits that and other creditable service by taking a separation benefit, then again purchases credit for the forfeited service.
For added clarity and to remove unnecessary cross-references to the former Wis. Stat. § 40.25 (6), which was repealed by 2003 Wis. Act 33, this rule-making also amends Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.19 (2) (a) through (d), concerning the pre-2000 or post-1999 treatment of purchased service credits for forfeited service. The existing protection of the employee by applying partial payments to pre-2000 service credit first is retained and expressly cross-referenced in the new § ETF 20.17 (3) (d).
A new s. ETF 20.19 (2) (dm) is created to provide that the purchased service credit for other governmental service will be treated as post-1999 or pre-2000 service for formula benefit purposes, depending on when the services were actually rendered to the non-WRS governmental entity. This is in accord with the provision of Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (em) 1. b. that purchased service credit for other governmental service will be treated as pre-2000 service for calculating a formula annuity benefit under Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (e), if the purchase was based on services considered to have been performed before January 1, 2000.
Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 20.19 (2) (e), (h), (i) and (f) already provide that purchased service credit for a qualifying period, teacher improvement leave, and previously uncredited service as a junior teacher or executive participating employee will be treated as pre-2000 service in calculating formula benefits under Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (e). This rule-making does not affect those provisions.
(f) Treatment of payments.
Amounts received for the purchase of service credit will be effectively deposited into the participant's required contribution account, described in Wis. Stat. § 40.04 (4) (a) 1. However, as provided in § ETF 20.17 (4) (f), funds received for the purchase of other governmental service will also be accounted for so that they are not matched by funds from employer required contributions when calculating a money purchase or a death benefit, as provided by Wis. Stat. §§ 40.23 (3) and 40.73 (1) (am) and (c).
Generally, the purchase amount will be treated as amounts received during the year in which the DETF actually receives the payment, meaning the funds will not be credited with interest for that calendar year. Generally, if the participant participates in the variable retirement investment trust, the amounts received will be divided between the core and variable retirement investment trusts just like the participant's current contributions.
There are exceptions to those general rules, however. An employee may use accumulated after-tax additional contributions, including those under Wis. Stat. § 40.05 (1) (a) 5., which are already in the Public Employee Trust Fund to make the service purchase. In order to protect the employee from losing year-end interest crediting on such funds, the rule creates an exception in § ETF 20.17 (1) (g) 3. that treats such funds as being in the Trust Fund throughout the year, as they were in fact. For similar reasons, the same exception also preserves the source of such funds in the core retirement investment trust and variable retirement investment trust.
(g) Refunds.
Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (7) prohibits any refund of $25 or less. Above that threshold, § ETF 20.17 (1) (f) in this rule provides that excess amounts received shall be refunded to the participant. An exception exists if the source of the purchase funds was a plan-to-plan transfer from another qualifying benefit plan. In those cases, in order to avoid tax liabilities for the employee, the refund must be paid back to the appropriate plan, as determined by the DETF.
Regarding the payment of interest on a refund, this rule-making cross-references the applicable statute. Wis. Stat. § 40.08 (6) (e) prohibits the payment of interest on a refund.
(h) Payment shortfalls.
By statute, the DETF will not undertake collection actions against the applicant if the payment shortfall is under $25. In ETF § 20.17 (1) (h), the rule anticipates that payment shortfalls might occur in different ways, separately or in combination. The applicant might include the full estimated amount with the application, but the subsequent audit and final calculation determines that the actual amount due is higher. Or, the applicant arranges for a plan-to-plan transfer to partly fund the service purchase, and the amount transferred from the other plan is insufficient, perhaps because the anticipated value of the account dropped in the interim.
When a plan-to-plan transfer is involved, the employee will be given 30 days to pay the shortfall. If not timely paid in full, the DETF will prorate the amount of service credit purchased to match the amount received in conformity with Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (5) (c). This is the only circumstance in which a person may purchase less than all of the available credit for a qualifying period, teacher improvement leave, and previously uncredited service as a junior teacher or executive participating employee.
If the shortfall is the result of a low estimate by the Department, and a plan-to-plan transfer was involved, the DETF will proceed in the same manner as for an insufficient transfer. Otherwise, the employee will be given 30 days to pay the difference due or withdraw the application. If the balance due is not timely received or the employee withdraws the application, the amounts received will be refunded. This is the only circumstance under which an applicant may withdraw or cancel an application to purchase service after any payment has been received by the DETF.
This rulemaking creates one other alternative payment option. It applies only when the estimate was too low, and the applicant has a WRS retirement benefit payable. In this case, the applicant may ask that the Department deduct the balance due from a subsequent monthly annuity payment or from a lump sum payable in lieu of an annuity. The current Wis. Admin. Code §§ ETF 20.15 (2) (em) and 20.16 (4m), allow such a deduction in connection with shortfalls in payments for the purchase of credit for forfeited service and qualifying service, respectively. This rule-making will expand the option to all service purchases.
A shortfall might occur if the applicant deliberately pays less than the full amount due. This is permissible only for a purchase connected with forfeited service or other governmental service. In those cases, the applicant will be given notice of the shortfall and an opportunity to pay the difference. If the difference is not received within 30 days after notice is sent to the participant, the department shall complete the purchase, reducing the amount of service credit purchased to the prorated credit equaling the payment actually received. This permits the applicant to decide to buy less then the full amount of service credit available, but only for service credit purchases under Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (2) (a) and (b), and accords with long-standing Department practice and policy.
(i) Effect of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
This rule-making clarifies the treatment of purchased credit for service when a court orders a division of a WRS account by a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). By amending the existing §ETF 20.25 (3) (d) 2., this rule-making provides that credit for service purchased under Wis. Stat. § 40.285 will be divided by a qualified domestic relations like all other creditable service in the participant's account, provided the application for the purchase was actually received by the department prior to the first day of the month in which the marriage was terminated. This date is defined by Wis. Stat. § 40.02 (18f) as the “decree date" and is the effective date of a QDRO. If the application to purchase credit for service is received after the decree date, then any service purchased under the application will not be affected by the QDRO, regardless of the source of the funds for the purchase or when the services in question were actually rendered. The amendment also provides that the Department will send any bill for payment shortfalls and any refund due in connection with the application to purchase service only to the participant, regardless of whether there is a QDRO or when the application was received. Nothing in this rule-making will prevent the parties to a divorce, or the court, from making arrangements between the parties for the participant to share refunds with the ex-spouse or for the ex-spouse to contribute, through the participant, to the payment of a shortfall. But the Department will not be required to split bills or refunds or deal with the ex-spouse concerning the participant's application to purchase service credits.
(j) Number of service credit purchases per year.
Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (2) (a) 3. and (b) 5. allow the Department the option to allow, by rule, more than two service credit purchases of forfeited service or two purchases of other governmental service per year. This proposed rule-making does not expand the default limit of two such service purchases per year and applies that limit across the board to all service credit purchases. This is necessary because of a payment option created by Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (5).
The purchase of the service for the qualifying period, teacher improvement leave, and previously uncredited service as a junior teacher or executive participating employee are all intended to be one-time purchases of the entire available credit with payment-in-full accompanying the application. Applications without full payment would generally be rejected. However, under Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (5), a plan-to-plan transfer is an available payment option for all forms of creditable service purchase. The possibility exists that there will be a payment shortfall resulting in prorating the service purchased as provided by Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (5) (c). To address that possibility, this rule-making permits an additional creditable service purchase of the same type during the same calendar year, provided the participating employee remains otherwise eligible. So, § ETF 20.17 (1) (e) limits all types of creditable service purchase to two per year, maximum.
Rule-making for particular kinds of
service purchase.
(a) Rules specific to purchase of credit for forfeited service.
This rule-making provides that the Department will prepare an estimate for purchase of forfeited service based upon all the years and fractions of a year of forfeited service for which credit may then be purchased, unless the employee specifies a lesser amount. Purchases of credit for forfeited service are limited by the accumulated creditable service of the employee at the time of the purchase, no matter how much previous service was actually forfeited.
Unlike purchases of credit for service during a qualifying period, teacher improvement leave, and previously uncredited service as a junior teacher or executive participating employee, these rules allow an employee to decide (after receiving the estimate and application form) to buy credit for less than the full amount of service credit available for forfeited service.
The rule-making also codifies in § ETF 20.17 (3) (f) the Department's long-standing and actuarially sound policy that credit for service forfeited by taking a separation benefit or otherwise withdrawing funds is not available for purchase as forfeited service if the individual was paid both the contributions required from an employee, including those “picked up" by the employer, and the deposits or contributions required from the state or the employer.
Wis. Stat. § 40.285 (4) (c) and (5) (c) require the Department to specify, by rule, how a purchase of forfeited service, by a participant who forfeited service under more than one category of employment, will be prorated in the event of different kinds of payment shortfalls. In this rule-making, §ETF 20.17 (3) (d) provides that, unless the applicant specifies otherwise, the amount received will be applied until exhausted to buy all the available creditable service under each of the employee's different employment categories listed in the order of the highest to lowest multipliers in Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (e) 1. through 4. In addition, credit for service as a protective occupation participant with Social Security coverage is listed ahead of service as an elected official or executive participating employee, and service as a teacher credited separately and ahead of other service in the general category under Wis. Stat. § 40.23 (2m) (e) 1. In the event that the treatment of Wis. Stat. §§ 40.02 (17) (intro.) and (33), 40.22 (2) (a), (2m) (intro.), (a) and (3) (b) by 2007 Senate Bill 40, sections 750, 758, 772, 773, 774, 775 and 9314, becomes law, then service as an educational support personnel employee would be listed just ahead of service as a teacher.
Links to Admin. Code and Statutes in this Register are to current versions, which may not be the version that was referred to in the original published document.