LEOFF History from 1969

The following is from a document written by Charlie Marsh.  At the time he was the head of the Washington State Council of Police Officers.  This article details the legislative efforts of the Council and Charlie.  While Charlie played a lead role in this effort there were numerous other individuals and organizations that worked to create LEOFF 1.  It is sort of common to see different organizations claim a major role in the effort.  The following is probably the best explanation of how things happened so long as you remember that the Council and Charlie, while major contributors, did not do it all on their own.

1969 Legislative Session
Regular session dates: January 13 through March 13
Special session dates: March 14 through May 12

The Council was able to pass two 41.20 bills during the regular 60-day session and, as a result, was in a free and unencumbered position to negotiate the best possible terms and conditions during the immediate special session following on SB 74 — the LEOFF Act creation.

The State Council steadfastly opposed for eight years any and all moves towards pension reform, which began in 1961 and continued uninterrupted through 1969. All of the many reform measures prepared during that period represented big losses over what we had fought for and won at Olympia.

Things came to a head during the 1969 special session when then Governor Dan Evans called Charlie Marsh of the State Council to his office. Gist of his conversation was that he had adequate votes in the legislature, which was Republican controlled, to pass pension reform, and indeed pension reform was going to happen at that special session with or without us. However, he expressed hope that we fore saw the inevitable and would lend support and cooperation.

Knowing, or at least believing, Evans was factually speaking and certainly not mincing his words while so doing, it left no Council alternative but to get on board and make the best of a situation for our members. That, then, is when the Council got deeply involved in negotiating acceptable terms.

While this was going on, Fire representatives agreed to a compromised version, but the State Council maintained strong opposition to certain areas. And though threats were made daily to run -the bill over us, we stood ground and the bill stayed in committee. Finally, Seattle Republican Senator John Ryder asked Marsh to place in writing the issues he had to have concession on. This was done, with five key points noted.

The following morning, Senator Ryder, Representative Jerry Kopet, Representative Ned Shera and Marsh had breakfast with Governor Evans at the mansion. Evans conceded on four of the points, and Marsh gave on the other.

Following that event, the LEOFF proposal passed from committee and went through both houses in record time, but with provision that it not become effective until March 1, 1970, for re-work to occur.

The steady and continued improvements made to RCW 41.20 (First Class Cities Police Retirement Act) from 1959 through 1969 provided great leverage in negotiating more favorable conditions for LEOFF.

Council refusal, despite extreme political pressures, to accept the LEOFF measure until on a close par to what we already had was an absolute necessity in protecting our own membership. But at the same time, all other city and county law enforcement members , then and in the future, received full benefit of those tough ‘behind-the-scenes” negotiations that yielded vast improvement and upgrading.


1970 Legislative Session
Special session dates: January 12 through February 12

Bills Passed

SB 74: The LEOFF Retirement Act was enacted at the 1969 session with a projected effective date of March 1, 1970. This delaying period of approximately eight months was purposely written into the 1969 bill for a “de-bugging” process by all involved. Those involved included the Association of Cities and Counties and their attorneys, the Public Pension Commission, and uniformed personnel.

The Public Pension Commission was created by the 1963 legislature and consisted of 5 Senators, 5 Representatives, and 5 public members appointed by the governor.

Charles Marsh of the State Council was the only public employee member ever to serve on the Public Pension Commission, having been appointed by then Governor Al Rosellini. That tenure ran until Dan Evans was elected governor, and Marsh was soon thereafter relieved of said assignment.

During the 1969-1970 interim, Public Pension Commission Chairman, Senator Walter Williams, named a committee to carefully study all aspects of the 1969 bill, and rewrite it to best serve the interests of all.

Named by Senator Williams were Phillip Austin, Assistant Attorney General and legal advisor to the State Retirement Systems, to represent the interest of local and state governments; and Charles Marsh of the State Council of Police to represent the interest of employees.

Following innumerable meetings with cities, counties and their attorneys, firefighters and the full Public Pension Commission, the rewrite was eventually agreed to and won approval for its introduction to the 1970 legislature.

SB 74, which comprised the LEOFF rewrite, then sailed through both the Senate and House”. And because we had rewritten in an emergency clause, it became fully implemented and operative by the due date of March 1, 1970

Thereafter, we proceeded to make even further LEOFF improvements with each passing legislative session, as the record bears out. At the same time, the Association of Cities, Counties, and some legislators started immediately with the 1971 session, and each year thereafter, with their takeaway efforts.

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