Legislation 2012

Please note that only a summary of each bill is provided.  

Board Endorsed Bills

HB 1444 | SB 5353 Duty-related Death Benefits - L&I Remarriage Prohibition for Surviving Spouses

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 from the state worker’s compensation program. This benefit is terminated if the survivor remarries.

This legislation allows the surviving spouse of a LEOFF Plan 2 or WSPRS member killed in the course of employment to remarry and continue receiving workers compensation survivor benefits. Surviving spouses who have already had their benefits suspended due to remarriage would have their benefits resume.

STATUS: HB 1444 and SB 5353 did not pass.

HB 1445 | SB 5354 Duty-related Presumption for Heart Attack & Stroke

There are currently no occupational illnesses/injuries in Washington that are presumptively duty-related for law enforcement officers. Many other states have occupational illness/injury presumptions for law enforcement officers covering a wide range of conditions including cardiovascular problems, cancer, and infectious diseases.

The Board legislation is modeled after a presumption in federal law that certain heart attacks and strokes are duty-related if they occur within 24 hours of non-routine stressful or strenuous physical law enforcement activities. The proposal is retroactive to January 1, 2010.

Note: EHB 2123 Addressing the Workers' Compensation System requires the Department of Labor and Industries to contract with an independent entity with research experience in workers' compensation issues to study occupational disease claims in the Washington workers' compensation system.

STATUS: HB 1445 and SB 5354 did not pass.

HB 2350 | SB 6563 Merging Plan 1 and Plan 2 of the Law Enforcement Officers' and Firefighters' Retirement Systems

State Savings: State contributions to LEOFF 2 are suspended immediately upon passage of the bill for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium saving as much as $80 million general fund (Sections 1 & 22). There is no reduction in employer or member rates.

LEOFF 1 & 2 Benefit Protections: All LEOFF 1 benefits, including local disability board benefits, are guaranteed to not be reduced (Section 5). The same protection is applied to LEOFF 2 member benefits.

Governance: The LEOFF Board would have the authority to adopt contribution rates, actuarial methods and actuarial assumptions for both LEOFF 1 and LEOFF 2. The Board's actions would not be subject to legislative revision as long as they were certified as reasonable by the State Actuary (Sections 9, 13 & 16). Board members could be appointed from either LEOFF 1 or LEOFF 2 (Section 7). The LEOFF Board would have greater authority over the Board's budget. (Section 11) Legal expenses could be paid from the retirement fund (section 20).

Future LEOFF Funding: The assets in the LEOFF 1 retirement fund are currently projected to be sufficient to meet the future liabilities of the plan but there is some risk that increased costs could put LEOFF 1 into pay-as-you-go ("pay-go") status. The two primary risks of increased costs for LEOFF 1 liabilities are 1) less-than-expected investment returns; and 2) higher-than-expected inflation.

A merger of the LEOFF Plan 1 and LEOFF Plan 2 retirement funds commingles the liabilities of both plans. So, an increase in LEOFF 1 costs would become the shared responsibility of LEOFF members, LEOFF employers and the State according to the 50-30-20 ratio currently in place for LEOFF 2 (Section 10). The risk of LEOFF 1 going into pay-as-you-go "pay-go" status is reduced to zero.

The requirement to pay off any unfunded liability in LEOFF 1 by 2024 is eliminated (Section 12).

Both LEOFF Plan 1 and LEOFF Plan 2 currently have a very substantial amount of unrecognized investment losses from the historically poor investment returns of 2008-2009 so the challenge to maintain stable contribution rates and full funding of the merged system, particularly over the next five years, is significant.

STATUS: HB 2350 and SB 6563 did not pass.

ESHB 2127 Making 2011-2013 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations

This is the proposed House supplemental operating budget for 2011- 13 Biennium. This proposal does not change contribution rates set by the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board

STATUS: ESHB 2127 passed and was signed by the Governor who partially vetoed. Chapter 7, 2012 Laws 2nd Special Session PV. Effective date 5/2/2012.

ESB 5967 Making 2011 2nd sp.s. supplemental operating appropriations (REVISED FOR ENGROSSED: Making 2011-2013 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations)

This is the proposed Senate supplemental operating budget for 2011- 13 Biennium. Section 704 temporarily lowers contribution rates for LEOFF Plan 2 below the current levels set by the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board. This proposal does not support the Board's goals of stable rates and full funding.

Section 704 of the bill sets new contribution rates for LEOFF 2 effective March 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, as follows:

  • Member: 6.53 percent (current 8.46 percent)

  • Employer: 3.92 percent (current 5.24 percent)

  • State: 2.61 percent (current 3.38 percent)

STATUS: ESB 5967 did not pass.

HB 2068 Contribution Rate Reduction

Contribution rates for the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System Plan 2 (LEOFF 2) would be reduced from the rates set by the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board (8.46 percent for members; 5.08 percent for employers; and 3.38 for the state) to the rates calculated according to the actuarial funding method by the State Actuary (7.40 percent for members; 4.44 percent for employers; and 2.96 for the state).

STATUS: HB 2068 did not pass.

SB 6543 Addressing the use of overtime when calculating pension benefits

For members who first establish membership on or after July 1, 2012, "basic salary" will exclude overtime payments. This means that overtime will not be included in the determination of these members' retirement allowances. Members who establish membership before July 1, 2012 will continue to have overtime payments included in "basic salary".

However, additional employer contributions will be collected to offset any increased liabilities in the retirement systems resulting from the inclusion of overtime in the determination of members' retirement allowances.

STATUS: SB 6543 did not pass.

HB 1552 Concerning garnishment

This bill among other changes to garnishment laws increases the exemption for wages and specifies that certain public employee pensions are exempt from garnishment.

STATUS: HB 1552 passed and was signed by the Governor on 3/29/12. Chapter 160, 2012 Laws with effective date 6/7/2012.

SB 6134 Allowing Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officers to Transfer Service Credit

This bill changes the deadline to pay for and transfer service credit under RCW 41.26.435 from June 30, 2014 to June 30, 2012.

STATUS: SB 6134 passed and was signed by the Governor. Chapter 248, 2012 Laws with effective date 6/7/2012.