Last month, Washington, D.C. welcomed members of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) for their annual Legislative Conference. This gathering not only facilitated numerous networking opportunities but also featured engaging discussions with congressional leaders and subject matter experts. Attendees delved into current congressional priorities, honed their messaging and strategies, and explored the impactful role of advocacy led by Treasurers and their teams.

One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the presentation of the Chris Allen Memorial Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Public Finance to Rachel Biar, Assistant State Treasurer of Nebraska. This prestigious award is given to an individual from a state treasury, NAST member agency, or congressional staff who has demonstrated exceptional advocacy or advancement of NAST’s priorities over the past year.

Rachel, who recently served as Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), has been instrumental in key advocacy efforts. These include advocating for CSPN during discussions on the 529-Roth IRA rollover provision, securing CSPN influence on child savings account proposals at the federal level, and supporting legislation that expands the use of 529 plans for workforce credentialing. Rachel’s dedication significantly contributed to NAST’s achievements in 2023.

Before the conference attendees dispersed to engage with Congress members individually, the conference concluded on a high note in a Capitol Hill hearing room, where Representatives Ron Estes (R-KS), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), and Rob Wittman (R-VA) shared insights into their legislative agendas. These discussions underscored broad support for ABLE savings plans and the expansion of 529 accounts for educational purposes. Representative Wittman, in particular, highlighted his personal connection to the issue through experiences with his son’s education, driving his advocacy for legislation that allows 529 funds to be used for credentialing programs.

In addition to focusing on college savings plans, the conference explored the evolving landscape of work and what the future may hold. Discussions also covered the implications of recent legislative developments like the Savers Match under Secure 2.0, particularly how these changes affect state-facilitated retirement programs given that Roth IRAs do not qualify for the new federal matching funds intended to support low-income workers in saving for retirement.

Overall, the NAST Legislative Conference was a resounding success, marked by insightful discussions, valuable learning opportunities, and robust advocacy efforts—all wrapped up in an engaging and enjoyable setting.

About the author:

Dillon Gibbons is the Director of Policy at the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST).