Please note that only a summary of each bill is provided.
Board Endorsed Bills
Disaster Response Benefits (HB 2592 / SB 6263)
HB 2592 / SB 6263: Provides benefits for certain retirement system members who die or become disabled in the course of providing emergency management services.
This bill provides LEOFF Plan 2 members who are called up into eligible federal service to respond to natural disasters (Oso, wildfires) or other federal emergencies (WTO riots) with similar benefit protections provided to members of the National Guard or Military Reserves who are called up during a time of war.
It does this by:Providing the survivor of a member who is killed while providing eligible federal service with service credit at no cost for the period of service up until the member’s death. Providing a member who is disabled while providing eligible federal service with service credit at no cost for the period of service up until the member’s separation from that service. Providing survivor retirement benefits which are not actuarially reduced for the survivor of a member who is killed while providing eligible federal service on or after March 22, 2014. Providing disability retirement benefits which are not actuarially reduced for a member who is killed while providing eligible federal on or after March 22, 2014.
Signed by the Governor on March 31, 2016. with an effective date of June 9, 2016. Chapter 115, 2016 Laws.
HB 2592 Status:
No action is being taken at this time.
SB 6263 Status: PASSED
- Retiree Purchase of Annuities (HB 2487 / SB 6264)
HB 2487 / SB 6264: Allowing certain law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ plan 2 retirees to purchase annuities.
The LEOFF 2 annuity purchase bill enacted in 2014 did not cover persons already retired on the effective date.
This bill allows LEOFF Plan 2 retirees who retired before June 1, 2014, a six month window to purchase an annuity through LEOFF. The annuity would be offered under the same terms as the current option including built in COLA and a survivor option.
SB 6264 Status: PASSED
Signed by the Governor on March 31 with an effective date of June 9, 2016. Chapter 222, 2016 Laws.
HB 2487 Status:
No action is being taken at this time.
Other Bills of Interest
- Presumption of Occupational Diseases (HB 2806 / SB 6520)
HB 2806 adds certain emergency medical technicians and public employee fire investigators to the list of workers covered by the occupational disease presumption for purposes of industrial insurance.
It also adds strokes occurring under certain conditions, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and several cancers to the list of diseases presumed to be occupational.
HB 2806 Status:
Mar 10: By resolution, returned to House Rules Committee for third reading.
SB 6520 Status:
No action being taken at this time.
- Addressing Optional Salary Deferral Programs (ESSB 5435)
EESB 5435 would require all counties, cities, and other political subdivisions that participate in one or more of the state retirement systems administered by the Department of Retirement Systems, to offer the Washington State Deferred Compensation Program (DCP) as an option to eligible employees.
The option should begin no later than January 1, 2017.
ESSB 5435 Status: PASSED
Signed by the Governor on March 31, 2016. Chapter 112, 2016 Laws. Effective date June 9, 2016.
- Merging of LEOFF Plan 1 and TERS Plan 1 (SB 6668)
SB 6668 would merge the assets, liabilities, and membership of the LEOFF Plan 1 retirement system are merged into the TRS Plan 1 retirement system. Additional features include:The members’ retirement benefits of the two systems remain unchanged. The suspension of all LEOFF Plan 1 employee and employer contributions is continued. The TRS Plan 1 employer contribution is reduced to 4.24 percent.
SB 6668 Status:
Mar 10: By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.
- The TRS Plan 1 employee contribution rate is unchanged.
- A one-time, lump-sum defined benefit of $5,000 is provided to all retired LEOFF Plan 1 members, payable on January 3, 2017.
- Active LEOFF Plan 1 members will receive the lump-sum benefit, with interest, on their retirement date.
- The reduction in the TRS Plan 1 employer contribution will result in $75 million in state General Fund savings in the 2015-17 biennium, with an expected additional savings of $243.8 million in the 2017-19 biennium.
- The 25-year savings to the state General Fund is estimated at $1.5 billion.
- School districts will also receive a fiscal benefit from the lower employer contribution rate for locally funded K-12 staff.
- With the merger of the two systems, the unfunded liability of TRS Plan 1 is expected to be defrayed in 2024, approximately three years earlier than under current law.
2016 Supplemental Operating Budget Proposals
- Senate Proposal (ESSB 6246)
ESSB 6246 – Companion Bill to ESHB 2376
Maintains the Board’s contribution rate and proposes two pension changes of interest:Merger of LEOFF Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1. No effect on LEOFF Plan 2.
Mar 10: By resolution, returned to Senate Rules Committee for third reading.Expression of intent to possibly fund the 2017-19 benefit improvement account appropriation from the LEOFF 2 Trust Fund (sec. 918). This same language was included in last year’s budget and vetoed by Governor Inslee.
- House Proposal (ESHB 2376)
2ESHB 2376 – Companion bill to ESSB 6246
Maintains the Board’s contribution rate and proposes two pension changes of interest:Contribution rates were maintained as passed by the Board. Funding was provided for the Board’s Retiree Annuity Bill SB 6264 which passed this session.
Section 921 declares the Legislature’s intent to fund a 2017 distribution to the Local Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ Retirement System Benefits Improvement Account through “alternate means” which may include transfers from the LEOFF 2 pension fund itself. I vetoed similar language in the 2015-17 biennial budget because I believe that this is not an appropriate use of a pension fund. While I signed the actual transfer language at that time, I indicated that this should be a one-time event to avoid weakening the pension fund. I continue to think that this is unwise, particularly when used to help balance the budget over four years. For these reasons, I have vetoed Section 921.
A merger study will be conducted which will include an update of the LEOFF Plan 1/LEOFF Plan 2 merger study conducted in 2011.
Signed by the Governor on April 18, 2016. Governor partially vetoed. Chapter 36, 2016 Laws 1st Special Session PV. Effective date April 18, 2016.
Governor’s veto message:
Section 921, pages 307-308, Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF), Distribution in 2017