Today in ERISA History

April 23, 1991 – The Rural Telephone Cooperative Associations ERISA Amendments Act of 1991, Pub. L. 102-88, is introduced in the House by Rep. Pat Williams (MT). It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 14, 1991.

If you have ever wonder why the definition of “multiple employer welfare arrangement” (MEWA) contained in ERISA section 3(40) (29 U.S.C. 1002(40)) specifically excludes any plan or arrangement established or maintained by a rural telephone cooperative association, it is due to the Rural Telephone Cooperative Associations ERISA Amendments Act of 1991. The entire text of the Act is:

    “This Act may be cited as the `Rural Telephone Cooperative Associations ERISA Amendments Act of 1991′.

    SEC. 2. EQUAL TREATMENT OF TELEPHONE AND ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE WELFARE PLANS FOR PURPOSES OF PREEMPTION.

    Section 3(40) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1002(40)) is amended–

      (1) in subparagraph (A)(i), by striking `or’ at the end;
      (2) in subparagraph (A)(ii), by striking `cooperative.’ and inserting `cooperative, or’;
      (3) by adding at the end of subparagraph (A) the following new clause:
        `(iii) by a rural telephone cooperative association.’;
      (4) in subparagraph (B)(iii), by striking `and’ at the end;
      (5) in subparagraph (B)(iv)(II), by striking `subclause (I).’ and inserting `subclause (I), and’; and
      (6) by adding at the end of subparagraph (B) the following new clause:
        `(v) the term `rural telephone cooperative association’ means an organization described in paragraph (4) or (6) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which is exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code and at least 80 percent of the members of which are organizations engaged primarily in providing telephone service to rural areas of the United States on a mutual, cooperative, or other basis.’.”

Posted on the Dept. of Labor’s website is an explanation of multiple employer welfare arrangements, including the exception for rural telephone cooperative associations.

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