Georgia House OKs state pension plan investing in alternatives

The Georgia House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation to allow the state's public pension funds, with the exception of the $48.1 billion Georgia Teachers' Retirement System, Atlanta, to invest in alternatives.

The vote follows passage of the bill in the state Senate on Feb. 23. Similar legislation was passed by the state Senate in 2006 and 2007, but those bills failed to gain state House approval.

Like the previous efforts, the bill allows funds to invest up to 5% of total assets in “alternative investments, private placements and other private investments” with firms with at least $100 million in assets under management.

The current bill came about after a unanimous vote in December by the board of the $13.8 billion Georgia Employees' Retirement System, Atlanta, to request revisiting the legislation, according to state Rep. Howard Maxwell, a sponsor of the bill.

The board of the teachers system has not addressed the legislation, which is why it was excluded, Mr. Maxwell added. He doesn't know whether the TRS board will ask to be included as well.

“We are taking one bite of the apple at a time. ERS asked for it, and we said OK we'll talk about it,” Mr. Maxwell said.

The bill will now go back to the Senate following some changes, including a requirement that ERS post updates on an alternatives program on its website twice a month.

“It's a good piece of legislation; we get at least 5% in there out of our investments, and I'm glad we got it done,” Mr. Maxwell said.