The Associated Press
SALEM Lawsuits by public employees seeking to overturn the Legislature's pension reform package moved a step forward this week when a state judge was picked to handle pre-hearing matters in the case.
Judge David Brewer, who's been on the Oregon Court of Appeals since 1999 and the Lane County Circuit Court before that, was appointed special master in the case Wednesday by the Oregon Supreme Court.
It will be up to Brewer to gather evidence and rule on legal motions before the Supreme Court hears arguments in the closely-watched battle over the Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS.
To ease PERS' longterm shortfall, the 2003 Legislature reduced benefits of many of the 215,000 people in the system by slowing the growth of retirement accounts and freezing cost-of-living adjustments for some.
However, eight lawsuits have been filed seeking to overturn the changes on grounds that the reforms break public employees' contract rights.
Lawmakers expect the court to rule within 18 months or so.