A.  Definitions; Board of Trustees


     §88-21  Definitions.  The following words and phrases as used in this part, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, shall have the following meanings:

     "Accidental death" means death that is the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring at some definite time and place while the member was employed in a position in which all contributions required to be made to the employees' retirement system by the employee or the employer, or both, have been made, was in the actual performance of duty, or due to the result of some occupational hazard, and not caused by wilful negligence on the part of the member.

     "Accumulated contributions":  the sum of all the amounts paid by, or deducted from the compensation of, a member and credited to the member's individual account in the annuity savings fund together with regular interest thereon.

     "Active member":  a member who is an employee.

     "Actuarial equivalent":  a benefit of equal value to the accumulated contributions, annuity, pension or retirement allowance, when computed upon the basis of the actuarial tables and other assumptions approved by the board of trustees from time to time and specified in writing.

     "Annuity":  benefit payments for life derived from the accumulated contributions of a member.

     "Average base pay" means the total base pay included in a member's average final compensation, divided by the number of years used to determine average final compensation.

     "Average final compensation":  the average annual compensation as described in section 88-81, which becomes part of the formula for the computation of a retirement allowance.

     "Average final compensation non-base pay ratio" means the average non-base pay divided by the average base pay.

     "Average non-base pay" means the total non-base pay included in a member's average final compensation divided by the number of years used to determine the member's average final compensation.

     "Base pay" means the normal periodic payments of money for service, the right to which accrues on a regular basis in proportion to the service performed; recurring differentials; and elective salary reduction contributions under sections 125, 403(b), and 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

     "Beneficiary":  the recipient of any benefit from the system or, as the context may indicate, the person or persons designated by a member, former member, or retirant, or as provided by law to receive the benefits payable in the event of the member's, former member's, or retirant's death.

     "Board":  the board of trustees of the employees' retirement system established pursuant to sections 88-23 and 88-24.

     "Child or children":

     (1)  A natural child of a member;

     (2)  A legally adopted child of a member; or

     (3)  A stepchild of a member:

          (A)  Who lives with a member in a regular parent-child relationship; and

          (B)  For whom the member has become the child's legal guardian or has been awarded legal and physical custody of the child pursuant to a valid court order.

     "Comparison period" means those years in the ten years of credited service prior to termination of service that are not included in the period for determining a member's average final compensation or, if the member has less than ten years of credited service prior to termination of service, the years of the member's credited service that are not included in the determination of the member's average final compensation.

     "Comparison period average base pay" means the total base pay for the comparison period divided by the number of years in the comparison period.

     "Comparison period average non-base pay" means the total non-base pay for the comparison period divided by the number of years in the comparison period.

     "Comparison period non-base pay ratio" means the comparison period average non-base pay divided by the comparison period average base pay.

     "Corrections officers":  all regularly employed personnel who are designated as adult corrections officers pursuant to the classification of positions under chapter 76.

     "County":  the counties of Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai and Maui, including their respective boards of water supply and other quasi-independent boards, commissions and agencies.

     "Credited service":  prior service plus membership service.

     "Elective officer" or "elective official":  any person elected to a public office or appointed to fill a vacancy of an elective office, except as a delegate to a constitutional convention, in accordance with an election duly held in the State or counties under chapter 11; provided that the person receives compensation, pay, or salary for such office.

     "Emergency medical technician" means a person regularly employed by the city and county of Honolulu's emergency services department whose principal duty is to provide emergency medical services and who is licensed to provide emergency medical services.

     "Employee":  any employee or officer of the State or any county, including inspectors, principals, teachers and special teachers, regularly employed in the public schools, cafeteria managers and cafeteria workers, apprentices and on-the-job trainees whether or not supported in whole or in part by any federal grants, members of the legislature and other elective officers, including the trustees of the office of Hawaiian affairs, year-round legislative employees who are employed on a full-time basis, probationary and provisional employees, any employee of the educational nonprofit public corporation as provided in section 88-49.7, per diem employees and others who are made eligible by reason of their employment to membership in the system by or pursuant to any other provision of law, but excluding:

     (1)  Per diem employees who elect to withdraw or not to become members as provided in section 88-42;

     (2)  Elective officers who do not elect to be members as provided in section 88-42.6;

     (3)  Session employees of the legislature employed after October 31, 2006, in accordance with section 88-54.2; and

     (4)  Persons excluded by rules of the board pursuant to section 88-43.

     An individual is an employee during the period of a leave of absence if the individual is in service, as defined in this part, during the period of the leave of absence and the board shall determine who are employees within the meaning of this part.

     "Firefighters":  all regularly employed members of the State, including employees of the department of transportation who were assigned firefighting duties at state airports prior to June 3, 1978, or of the fire departments of the counties, whose principal duties are to prevent and fight fires.

     "Judge":  a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the intermediate appellate court, a judge of the circuit court, a judge of the district court, or a district family court judge of this State.

     "Legislative officer" means a chief clerk, an assistant chief clerk, a sergeant at arms, or an assistant sergeant at arms of either house of the legislature.

     "Medical board":  the board of physicians provided for in section 88-31.

     "Member":  any person included in the membership of the system.

     "Membership service":  all service rendered by a member for which the member had made the required contributions to the system.

     "Narcotics enforcement investigators":  those officers or employees with police powers as defined by chapter 329 who actively enforce narcotics or related statutory provisions on a full-time basis.

     "Ordinary death":  death that is not accidental and that occurs while in service or on authorized leave without pay.

     "Pensions":  benefit payment for life derived from money provided by the State or county, as the case may be.

     "Per diem worker":  a person employed and compensated on an hourly or daily basis.

     "Police officers":  all duly commissioned members of the police department of the several counties whose principal duties are law enforcement and who are paid on a monthly salary basis, including without limiting the generality of the foregoing, all police matrons and guards who work under the jurisdiction of such departments.

     "Prior service":  service rendered by a member to the State, territory or county or predecessor government prior to the establishment of the system or, as specifically provided in this part, prior to the admission of certain groups or classes of employees into the system membership.

     "Public safety investigations staff investigators":  those employees in the investigations staff office of the department of public safety who have been conferred police powers by the director of public safety in accordance with section 353C-4 and are in the positions of investigator I to VII.

     "Regular interest":

     (1)  For a member who became a member before July 1, 2011, interest at four and one-half per cent a year, compounded annually; and

     (2)  For a member who becomes a member after June 30, 2011, interest at two per cent a year, compounded annually.

     "Retirant":  a member who has retired and becomes a beneficiary of the system.

     "Retirement allowance":  the benefit payable for life as originally computed and paid a member at the point of the member's retirement in accordance with the retirement allowance option selected by the member, exclusive of any bonus or bonuses.

     "Service":  service as an employee paid by the State or county, and also:  service during the period of a leave of absence or exchange if the individual is paid by the State or county during the period of the leave of absence or exchange; and service during the period of an unpaid leave of absence or exchange if the individual is engaged in the performance of a governmental function or if the unpaid leave of absence is an approved leave of absence for professional improvement; provided that, for the period of the leave of absence or exchange without pay, the individual makes the same contribution to the system as the individual would have made if the individual had not been on the leave of absence.  Cafeteria managers and cafeteria workers shall be considered as paid by the State, regardless of the source of funds from which they are paid.

     "Service retirement":  retirement of a member for age or length of service.

     "Sewer worker" means an employee of any county who is employed in any of the following classifications or classifications performing substantially the same work under classification titles not listed in this definition:

     (1)  Sewer maintenance helper or wastewater collection system helper;

     (2)  Sewer maintenance repairer or wastewater collection system repairer;

     (3)  Sewer maintenance working supervisor;

     (4)  Sewer maintenance supervisor I or II or wastewater collection system supervisor I or II;

     (5)  Wastewater collection system inspection supervisor;

     (6)  Wastewater collection system district supervisor;

     (7)  Wastewater collection system field services supervisor;

     (8)  Gas detector;

     (9)  Gas detector helper;

    (10)  Gas detection supervisor;

    (11)  Cesspool worker;

    (12)  Cesspool pumping equipment operator I or II;

    (13)  Cesspool pumping supervisor; or

in any combination of these classifications.

     "System":  the employees' retirement system of the State of Hawaii.

     "Water safety officer":  any regularly employed member of any county of the State whose principal duty is to stand guard over the beaches of the State and counties to ensure the safety of individuals thereon.

     "Year round school employee":  any teacher, school administrator, school health aide, educational assistant, school security attendant, or other salaried ten-month department of education employee working in a public school operating under a single-track restructured instructional schedule. [L 1925, c 55, §1; am imp L 1927, c 251, especially §§1, 2, 5; am L 1929, c 96, §19; RL 1935, §7920; am imp L 1937, c 235; RL 1945, §701; am L 1945, c 73, §1(a); am L 1947, c 85, §1(a); am L 1951, c 110, §1(a); am L 1953, c 37, §1(a), (b); am L 1955, c 141, §1(a), (b); RL 1955, §6-20; am L 1957, c 43, §1, c 143, §1, and c 231, §1(a); am L 1959, c 60, §1; am L 1961, c 181, §1; am imp L 1963, c 127, §20; am L 1965, c 222, §§1, 2; am L 1967, c 98, §2, c 130, §1, and c 176, §1; HRS §88-21; am L 1969, c 110, pt of §1; am L 1972, c 36, §1; am L 1973, c 179, §26; am L 1975, c 82, §19(a); am L 1977, c 191, §2; am L 1978, c 193, §1; am L 1979, c 111, §8; am L 1982, c 165, §1; gen ch 1985; am L 1987, c 299, §1; am L 1988, c 242, §2; am L 1989, c 339, §1 and c 343, §1; am L 1993, c 357, §1(1); am L 1994, c 108, §2 and c 196, §2; am L 1997, c 374, §1; am L 2002, c 183, §5; am L 2003, c 199, §2; am L 2004, c 182, §3; am L 2005, c 58, §2; am L 2006, c 169, §§1, 4; am L 2007, c 2, §2 and c 215, §2; am L 2008, c 41, §3 and c 47, §3; am L 2010, c 197, §2; am L 2011, c 5, §12 and c 163, §18; am L 2012, c 153, §6; am L 2018, c 69, §2]




  L 2011, c 163, §20 provides:

  "SECTION 20.  Commencing on January 1, 2020, the board of trustees of the employees' retirement system shall conduct a study to determine whether the percentage of regular interest, as defined under section 88-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is appropriate.  The board shall compare that percentage against the guaranteed percentage of interest paid by other investment or saving vehicles during the fiscal year 2019-2020.  The board shall submit a report of the study to the legislature that shall include a recommendation on whether the percentage of "regular interest" should be changed or remain the same.  The board shall submit the report not less than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2021."


Attorney General Opinions


  Constitutional under Article XVI, section 2 and Article I, section 5 of the State Constitution.  Att. Gen. Op. 87-4.


Case Notes


  Mentioned:  74 H. 181, 840 P.2d 367.