The 2017 Legislature is scheduled to be in session January 9 through April 23, 2017. Please note, only a summary of each bill appears below. Click on the links for additional information.
Session Cutoff Dates
* After 5 p.m. on the 94th day, only initiatives, alternatives to initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets, messages pertaining to amendments, difference between the houses and matters incident to the interim and closing of the session may be considered.
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: Passed through the Senate on March 8. Referred to the House Finance Committee March 10.
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: The substitute bill was passed by the House on March 3. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor & Sports at 1:30 PM on March 22.
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 through the house of origin.
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: The substitute bill was passed by the Senate on March 7. Referred to House Committee on Appropriations March 9.
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: No action is being taken at this time.
SB 5661: Addressing interruptive service credit for members of the law enforcement officers’ and fire fighters’ retirement system.
Redefines “Period of War” by removing the requirement for LEOFF members to have been awarded the respective campaign badge or medal.
Status: Passed through the Senate on March 6. Scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations at 3:30 PM on March 15.
PSSB 5048: Making 2017-2019 fiscal biennium operating appropriations.
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.
Alternate Revenue (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.
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.
HB 1067 Status: A public hearing was held in the House Committee on Appropriations on January 12.