Please note that only a summary of each bill is provided.
The LEOFF Plan 2 Board recommended eight bills for the 2009 Legislative Session and five of them were passed.
Board Endorsed Bills
Catastrophic Disability Medical Insurance
Members who suffer catastrophic duty-related disabilities may not have access to health care insurance. This bill extends the option to purchase health care insurance from the State (PEBB) to members who are catastrophically disabled in the line of duty and their spouses and dependent children. The member and dependents pay the full cost of the insurance.
EHB 1679 did not pass.
SB 5441 did not pass.
Duty Disability Conversion - PASSED
Members who retired as a result of duty related disabilities prior to the creation of duty disability retirements are not receiving the favorable tax treatment on their benefits to which they are entitled. This bill would reclassify eligible Service and Disability retirements to Occupational Disability retirements for the purpose of allowing affected retirees to take advantage of favorable tax treatment on the first 10% of the member's salary.
HB 1678 passed and was signed by the Governor on April 15th. (Chapter 95, laws of 2009, effective July 26, 2009)
SB 5542 was vetoed by the Governor on April 17th in order to avoid confusion with the companion bill HB 1678 which had already been signed into law.
Fish and Wildlife Service Credit Transfer - PASSED
Enforcement Officers with the State Department of Fish & Wildlife became members of LEOFF Plan 2 in 2003. Enforcement Officers were previously members of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). Enforcement Officers were not provided with an option in 2003 to transfer any past PERS service to LEOFF Plan 2. All other groups of employees whose membership was changed from PERS to LEOFF Plan 2 in the past, such as port police and fire fighters, higher education police and fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians were provided with an option to transfer their past eligible service from PERS to LEOFF Plan 2.
This bill, developed jointly with the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP), provides Enforcement Officers at the State Department of Fish & Wildlife with the opportunity to transfer their past service as Enforcement Officers from PERS Plan 2/3 to LEOFF Plan 2. Transferring members will be required to pay the greater of the difference in contributions that the member made to PERS 2/3 and what the member would have made had the service been rendered in LEOFF 2, plus interest, or the entire balance of the member's PERS 3 defined contribution account.
Member, employer, and state contribution rates will increase to the extent necessary to fund the difference in the value of the service credit transferred between PERS and LEOFF Plan 2, and the member contributions transferred into LEOFF Plan 2.
SHB 1953 passed and was signed by the Governor on April 21st (Chapter 157, laws of 2009, effective July 26, 2009).
|EHB 1547 SB 5312||
$150,000 Death Benefit Inflation Adjustment
The $150,000 lump-sum death benefit paid to survivors of public employees who die in the line of duty is not adjusted for inflation and has not increased since it was created in 1996. This bill, developed jointly with the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP), increases the amount of the death benefit to $175,000.
EHB 1547 did not pass.
SB 5312 did not pass.
Interruptive Military Service Credit - PASSED
Members whose public employment is interrupted by military service are required to pay member contributions in order to purchase service credit. This bill, developed jointly with the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP), eliminates the member obligation to pay for interruptive military service credit if the member served during a period of war.
Employers will still be required to pay the employer contributions on the service. This bill also refunds the member contributions already paid by a member to purchase interruptive military service credit. In the case of a military death, the survivor would also be relieved of paying the member cost for interruptive military service credit.
HB 1548 passed and was signed by the Governor on April 24th (Chapter 205, laws of 2009, effective July 26, 2009).
Military Service Death Benefit - PASSED
Beneficiaries of members who die while serving on active duty with the United States Military do not qualify for duty-related death benefits. This bill, developed jointly with the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP), eliminates the actuarial reduction for the survivor of a member who left the employ of a retirement system-covered employer to serve in the National Guard or military reserves, and who die while honorably serving in a defined period of war.
HB 1551 passed and was signed by the Governor on April 25th (Chapter 226, laws of 2009, effective July 26, 2009) .
Survivor L&I Benefits/Remarriage Prohibition
Surviving spouses of LEOFF Plan 2 members who are killed in the line of duty are entitled to receive a monthly benefit of at least 60% of member's wages. This benefit is paid for the lifetime of the survivor, or until remarriage.
This bill allows surviving spouses of the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System and the Washington State Patrol Retirement System who are eligible for death benefits under the Industrial Insurance Act to continue to receive the benefit monthly for life regardless of whether they remarry. This applies to remarriages entered into on or after the effective date of the Act.
HB 1212 did not pass.
Domestic Partner Benefits/LEOFF Plan 2 - PASSED
Domestic partners are not treated the same as spouses for all pension benefits. There are six distinct areas in which spouses and domestic partners are treated differently under pension law including (1)Survivor Health Care, (2) Survivor Retirements, (3) Purchase of Military Service, (4) Member Contributions, (5) $150,000 Death Benefit, (6) Service and Disability Retirements. This bill gives the domestic partners of LEOFF Plan 2 members the same rights and options as spouses for pension benefits.
EHB 1616 passed and was signed by the Governor on May 18. (Chapter 523, laws of 2009, effective July 26, 2009)
Other Bills of Interest
Actuarial Funding of Pension Systems- PASSED
This bill changed the methods and assumptions for the actuarial funding and revised pension contribution rates for all the state retirement systems, EXCEPT LEOFF Plan 2. In all Plans except LEOFF 2 this bill would lower contribution rates in the 2009-2011 Biennium and increase member contribution rates in future biennia beginning in the 2013-2015 Biennium.
SB 6161 passed and was signed by the Governor on May 19. (Effective July 1, 2009)