You have requested my opinion whether O.C.G.A. § 45-18-52 authorizes the Employee Benefit Plan Council (“the Council”) to create an automobile or homeowner insurance program for state employees. It is my opinion that the Code section does authorize the Council to create such group insurance programs should it choose to do so. This opinion is not intended to comment on any particular plan, the adoption of which is in the sound discretion of the Council subject to statutory guidelines not within the scope of this opinion.

The Council is established in O.C.G.A. § 45-18-51. Code section 45 18 52(a) specifically provides that:

The council is authorized to establish a flexible employee benefit plan for employees of the state and public schoolteachers and public school employees and to promulgate rules and regulations for its administration, subject to the limitations in this article and in Articles 1 and 2 of this chapter. The flexible employee benefit plan may provide for deductions or salary reductions for group life insurance, group property and casualty insurance, disability insurance, supplemental health and accident insurance, health care or dependent care spending accounts as authorized under Section 125 of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, other types of employee welfare benefits, or for salary reductions for health premiums under Article 1 of this chapter and Code Sections 20-2-880 and 20-2-910.

The section further sets forth that the Council may, at its discretion, operate the insurance benefit as a “self-insured plan in whole or in part or by contract with any company authorized to transact such business in this state.” Id.

Under the express terms of the Code section, the Council could adopt a group insurance plan as a flexible benefit for public employees.1 Prior to entering into any contract, the commissioner of personnel administration must invite proposals and allow a reasonable time for qualified corporations or entities to bid. O.C.G.A. § 45 18 56. See also GA. COMP. R. & REG. r. 478 2 .02(10)(d)(1986). The Council must approve any new optional benefit plan that authorizes the deduction or reduction in salary. O.C.G.A. § 45 18 54(a).

It is my unofficial opinion, therefore, that O.C.G.A. § 45 18 52 authorizes the Employee Benefit Plan Council to create an automobile or homeowner insurance program for state employees.

Prepared by:

Kathleen T. Gosden
Assistant Attorney General

1 O.C.G.A. § 45-18-50 (3) defines “employee” for purposes of the Article.