The regular 2017 Legislative session ran January 9 through April 23, 2017.

The Governor has convened a Special Session for the Legislature beginning Monday, April 24. Special Sessions are scheduled to run 30 days, or until the necessary work is completed.

Please note, only a summary of each bill appears below. Click on the links for additional information.

 

Bills of Interest

Property Tax Exemption for LEOFF Members Killed in the Line of Duty (SB 5104)

SB 5104: Concerning the creation of a property tax exemption for spouses of military members or first responders killed in the line of duty.

Exempts spousal survivor from any legal obligation to pay all or a portion of the amount of excess and regular real property taxes due and payable in the year following the year in which a claim is filed, and thereafter. The spouse must have lived on the property at the time of the claim filing and the exemption can be transferred if the claimant sells, transfers or is displaced from their residence. No more than one claim per residence per year.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

Providing Worker's Compensation for Stress-caused Disabilities of LEOFF Members (SHB 1655)

SHB 1655: Providing industrial insurance coverage for stress-caused mental disorders and disabilities of members of the law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ retirement system.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

Adding Presumptive Occupational Diseases and Medical Conditions to Worker's Compensation Rules for LEOFF Members (SB 5477)

SB 5477: Adding medical conditions to the presumption of occupational diseases and extending the presumption to certain publicly employed firefighters and investigators and law enforcement officers.

Adds fire investigators to the list of eligible personnel. Adds stroke and heart attacks for law enforcement officers under certain conditions. Adds several cancers to the list of presumptions for fire fighters.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

LEOFF 2 Eligibility for Hospital District EMT's (ESSB 5659/HB 1932/HB 2187/SHB 2202)

ESSB 5659: Addressing the eligibility of emergency medical technicians employed by public hospital districts for membership in the law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ retirement system.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who provide emergency medical services for a public hospital district (PHD) will be members of LEOFF Plan 2 on a prospective basis. An EMT that is employed by a PHD is only considered a firefighter if they perform emergency medical services, such as medical treatment, at the scene of a medical emergency. Past service credit in LEOFF 2, dating back to July 24, 2005, may be purchased by paying the LEOFF 2 contributions for that service.

An EMT who is providing emergency medical services for a PHD that is in PERS will have the option to either join LEOFF 2, or remain in PERS. These employees have the option to transfer their service credit, dating back to July 24th, 2005, from PERS into LEOFF 2.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

HB 1932: Addressing the eligibility of emergency medical technicians employed by public hospital districts for membership in the law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ retirement system.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

HB 2187: Addressing the eligibility of emergency medical technicians employed by public hospital districts for membership in the law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ retirement system plan 2.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

SHB 2202: Addressing the eligibility of emergency medical technicians for membership in the law enforcement officers’ and firefighters’ retirement system plan 2.

Status: Passed and sent to the Governor for signature.

Addressing Interruptive Service Credit for LEOFF Members (SB 5661)

SB 5661: Addressing interruptive service credit for members of the law enforcement officers’ and fire fighters’ retirement system.

The LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board (Board) must study the requirement that members of LEOFF 2, who are veterans of specified conflicts, make contributions to the plan for periods of interruptive service credit where the member was not awarded a campaign badge or medal. The Board must report the findings of the study to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by January 1, 2018.

Status: Passed and sent to the Governor for signature.

 

Budget Bills

2017-19 Operating Budget (PSHB 1067 / PSSB 5048)

PSSB 5048: Making 2017-2019 fiscal biennium operating appropriations.

Issues Impacting LEOFF Plan 2:

Contribution Rates (Sections 939 & 940)

Except for fire protection districts, the State contribution to LEOFF Plan 2 is eliminated making the contribution rate funding ratio 50% member and 50% employer. The state saves $109 million in 2017-19 ($111 million in 2019-21).

Merger (not included in budget proposal)

A merger of LEOFF Plan 1 with either TRS Plan 1 or LEOFF Plan 2 is NOT included in this Senate budget proposal.

Benefit Improvement Account (Section 941)

The $25 million alternate revenue payment scheduled for September 30, 2017 is canceled. Intent language is added that any distribution to the Benefits Improvement Account in 2019 may include a transfer from the LEOFF Plan 2 trust fund.

Other Sections of Interest:

Fire Insurance Premium Tax (Section 938)

Changes are made to the distribution of the fire insurance premium tax. Twenty-five percent of fire insurance premiums tax will be distributed eligible cities, towns, and fire protection districts with a cap of $2,000 per eligible firefighter. Eligibility criteria are specified.

DRS and OSA Administrative Expenses (Sections 942 & 943)

The Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) administrative fee of 0.18 percent on all employers is suspended during the 2017-2019 biennium. Expenses for administration of DRS and the Office of the State Actuary (OSA) are instead paid on a proportional basis from the interest earnings on the pension trust funds. There is intent language stating that his policy will be continued in subsequent fiscal biennia.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

PSHB 1067: Making 2017-2019 fiscal biennium operating appropriations.

Issues Impacting LEOFF Plan 2:

Contribution Rates (Section 711)

The 2017-2019 House budget includes the full required contribution to the plan as adopted by the Board. The current adopted contribution rates, effective July 1, 2017 are:

8.75% Member, 5.25% Employer, 3.50% State

Benefit Improvement Account (BIA) (Section 957):

LEOFF Plan 2 historically had two sources of revenue to fund plan benefits; contributions and investment earnings. Any benefit improvement requires an increase in contributions.

The Legislature passed a bill in 2008 to provide additional revenue, paid out of the state general fund. The new revenue is intended to fund LEOFF 2 benefit improvements when the State economy grows by more than 5% from one fiscal biennium to the next.

The growth trigger was met for the first time in 2013. However the Legislature amended the statute in the 2013-15 operating budget to eliminate the $5 million payment due to the BIA. When the 5% trigger was met again in 2015, a $10 million dollar payment became due into the BIA. Instead of paying the owed amount out of the general fund, the legislature opted to allow a one-time transfer of the unsettled balance of $15 million, plus interest, into the BIA from the LEOFF Plan 2 Trust.

The 5% trigger was met again in 2017, creating a $25 million payment coming due into the BIA. This payment was not included in the House budget. It is also the intent of the legislature to find alternate means to fund future payments into the BIA.

Reimbursement for Special Events Contributions (Section 956):

Employers commonly provide emergency services or security at venues, sporting events, etc. LEOFF 2 members who work these duties receive compensation that is included in the member’s basic salary. This compensation is pensionable and therefore requires retirement contributions be paid by all parties (member, employer and state). During fiscal years 2018 and 2019, when an employer charges a fee or recovers costs for this type of work, the employer must cover both the employer and the state contributions.

Status: Did not pass regular session.

2017 Supplemental Operating Budget (HB 1068 / SB 5047)

HB 1068 / SB 5047: Making 2017 supplemental operating appropriations.

1068 Status: Did not pass regular session.

5047 Status: Did not pass regular session.