Senate Bills & Hearing

Several pension bills have been introduced. Three of the retirement bills that have been introduced are of particular interest to our members, HB 1701, SB 5652 deal with the LEOFF II Retirement System. The bills increase the service credit allowance. Currently in both LEOFF I and LEOFF II for a service retirement the retired member received two percent of final average salary for each year of service, divided by twelve for a monthly retirement salary. Twenty-five years of service, fifty percent and two percent for each additional year. Thirty years of service, sixty percent and so on.

A LEOFF I disability pension is fifty percent regardless of the number of years of service. There is a tax benefit with a disability pension. The disability retirement is a little different in LEOFF II and in the prior pension laws RCW 41.16, 41.18 (fire) and 41.20 (police).

In HB 1701 and SB 5652 now under consideration there is an increase in the percentage of final average salary for LEOFF II. The LEOFF II members will receive 2.5 percent for the years of service from the year fifteen to the year twenty-five. They will get 2.5 percent of final average salary for the ten year period for a total of 5 percent. If the bill is passed a LEOFF II firefighter with twenty-five years of service will retire on a service pension with fifty-five percent of his/her final average salary. In addition, there is a provision for a defined benefit payment, a payment to the members of the LEOFF II retirement system but not for LEOFF I. Last year in SB 5453 there was a defined benefit of $20,000.00 to all the members of both retirement systems LEOFF I and LEOFF II but it was a flat amount of $20,000.00 for everyone. There were complaints that the flat amount of $20,000.00 was not equitable in that everyone received the same regardless of their years of service, 15, 20, 25, or 30.

In SB 5652 there is a defined benefit based on the years of service. The payment is computed as follows:

• Total years worked x 12 for total months worked x $100.00 equals the defined benefit payment.

• ·20 years worked x 12 months = 240 months x $100.00 = $24,000.00

• 25 years worked x 12 months = 300 months x $100.00 = $30,000.00

• 30 years worked x 12 months = 360 months x $100.00 = $36,000.00

This payment will also go to those who retired on disability and to surviving spouses. The problem is that LEOFF I was not included in this bill. SB 5791 is basically the same bill sponsored by Senator Schoesler and Senator Short but with a new section that specifies that the members of the LEOFF I Retirement System are eligible for the same defined benefit payment as described for LEOFF II.

We will attend a virtual Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting on Monday January 17 at 4:00 in an attempt to have the committee pass SB 5791 sponsored by Senator Schoesler and Senator Short or to amend any other bill that addresses the defined benefit to include the members of the LEOFF I Retirement System with a 1.4-billion-dollar surplus. Please call, write or email your Senator or the Senators on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. To find out how to get the names and email address of the Senators on the Ways and Means Committee please call the Legislative Information Center 13607867573. Remember, we want SB 5652 amended or SB 5791 passed to include the LEOFF I members in the defined benefit section of the bill.

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