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SB 5873

The following is the text from an email sent to one of our members from his Representatives.   Basically it says that the Bill could still be passed NTIB in the final budget.  At this time we do not know how likely that is, but it would be a good time to contact your Senators and Representatives and urge inclusion of this bill in the final budget.

"Thank you for your email in support of SB5873, relating to permitting persons retired from the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire  Fighters (LEOFF 1) to select a survivor benefit option.
As you may know, SB5873 passed the Senate but did not progress in the House. However funding is provided in  the Senate budget for implementation of SB5873 should it pass.  As this bill would impact the budget, it may still be considered during the special session and our ongoing budget discussions.
Again, thank you for contacting me.  I  appreciate your feedback,
Representative Tina L. Orwall M.S W.
33rd. Legislative District"

Emails have been circulating information about HR 711, a federal bill that would eliminate the Windfall Tax on Social Security.  While it is great that there is strong support for this bill from public employees across the country, the bill itself is not new.  It is one of those that is put forward with every session of Congress and then simply sets in committee and never gets a hearing or vote.  Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have signed on to this legislation over the past number of years and are quick to point out how they have supported the legislation but when asked what they have done specifically to move it forward they never reply.  This is a common device used by legislators to enable them to show their support for legislation that they do not care enough about to try and get passed.  So, year after year nothing happens.

Maybe some letters to your Senators and Representative will help.  The full story provides more details and links to the actual legislation.
Washington, D.C., May 12, 2015 – Today, the Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act (H.R. 2146), introduced by U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) passed the House by a vote of 407 to 5. This bill would ensure fairness for federal public safety officials by allowing them to access retirement savings at the age of 50 after 20 years of service without the application of the 10% tax.

SB 5873 Dies

SB 5873 sat in the House Appropriations Committee and dies.  We were unsuccessful in getting a hearing for this bill in the House.  The only chance remaining is if it should get classified as Necessary To Pass Budget. In that case it could pass as a budget line item.  Thus far it does not appear this will happen.  A bit of a shame since this bill was easily passed in the Senate with bi-partisan support.  Many thanks to all of you who wrote emails and letters in support of this bill and to the RFFOW and Dick Warbrouck for binging this bill forward.

Joe Fischnaller comments on Illinois decision.

At first glance, it might seem that it would be extremely good for us, but that is not the case.  It is neither good nor bad for us.  In reality, it has no effect whatsoever on our law, here in Washington. 

The decisions of courts in other states have no effect on the decisions rendered in this state.  Only the decisions of some Federal Courts, such as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, must be followed by our courts, and then only with regard to issues that are Federal in nature. 

In short, this is a States rights issue which is far more complex than I am making it sound.  Our state already has a similar decision in the
Bakenhus v. City of Seattle, 48 Wash.2d 695, which controls such issues in this State.

I hope that this has been helpful.


Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Lawmakers’ Pension Overhaul

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday rejected changes that legislators made to fix a deeply troubled public pension system, leaving the state where it had started — with a significant budget crisis, a vastly underfunded pension program and no plan in sight.

All seven members of the state’s highest court found that a pension overhaul lawmakers had agreed to almost a year and a half ago violated the Illinois Constitution. The changes would have curtailed future cost-of-living adjustments for workers, raised the age of retirement for some and put a cap on pensions for those with the highest salaries. But under the state Constitution, benefits promised as part of a pension system for public workers “shall not be diminished or impaired.” 

See the article...
I received a note from Nancy Witter the daughter of Otis Hay, deceased member from the Tacoma Fire Department. Otis also served as a director of the R.F.F.O.W for many years. Nancy notified me that her mother Roberta could no longer maintain her membership. This is unfortunate as it is important to us and to the family that the surviving spouse maintain their membership as long as possible. We want them and their families to be informed and able to help when or if needed. There is strength in numbers and our annual dues are predicated on the number of members.
As of March 30, 2015 we have reached the seventy- eighth day of the one hundred five day Legislative Session. The last day of the regular session is April 26, 2015. Some of the bills that we have been monitoring are now dead as they failed to pass the  first cut off. March 11th was the last day to consider bills in the House of origin. House bills that were not passed by the House and Senate bills that were not passed by the Senate will no longer be considered unless they are being considered by a House Fiscal committee, the Senate Ways and Means or Transportation committee. The two bills, SB 5873 that we had introduced and HB 1194 that we have been lobbying are moving and still under consideration.
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