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SB5873

SB 5873 - Creating another opportunity for LEOFF Plan 1 retirees to designate a spouse as a survivor beneficiary. If enacted, this bill would allow a LEOFF Plan 1 retiree a chance to name as survivor a spouse he or she married after retiring. To qualify, the marriage would need to have spanned at least two years before Sept. 1, 2015

This bill is now showing on the list of Pension Bills before the Legislature. It is time to write your legislators and urge passage.

Pension Bills

See a list of the Pension Bills introduced in the 2016 Session thus far.  Please not there have been no specific LEOFF 1 Bills introduced as yet.SB 5873 is still active but has not yet made the list of formally introduced bills.

2016 COLA

The COLA for April 1, 2016 will be 0.907%.  This number is based on the direct calculation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.  The official notification of the COLA has not yet been released.  Please go to the full article to view the calculation.
As you know SB5873 was introduced and amended in the 2015 legislative session. It passed unanimously in the Senate but died in the House. I believe part of the reason for that was the perception that the bill has a fiscal cost. It does not. We tried to overcome that misinformation but time was running out and the budget was, of course, the priority.
I have explained before that we have had twelve retirement bills passed since the year 2000 that improved the retirement benefits for police and fire. We passed three bills that allow those members who are married after retirement to select a survivor benefit for their spouse.  The first bill was in 2005 for all LEOFF I police and fire who were receiving their full pension.  The second bill was about 2007 for those LEOFF I police and fire who were only receiving a partial pension due to a divorce settlement.  The third bill passed in 2009 was for RCW 41.18, the Prior Act retirees.  At that time the Prior Act members had to be married five years before retirement to have a survivor benefit.
Many of you have probably just received the latest LEOFF 1 Coalition Annual Report.  It provides very little in the way of information but it does contain a plea for donations and a return envelope so you can send in money.  Do not do it!

The Coalition is composed of only seven members.  They do not represent you.  You cannot elect the board or officers as there are no such elections. The board may be of good heart, but they are responsible to no one except themselves.  You have no say on how they might spend your money.

The Coalition does not provide any report of their finances.  Note that that information is not included in the Annual Report.  Years ago they used to do that.  Now it is all secret.  As near as we can tell they have a lot of money.  The last report they made available showed funding in excess of $130,000.00.  Since that time they really have not done much except send out requests for donations.

We have always held that the Coalition has no right to ask for donations so long as the refuse to report on their finances and how they spend the money that was donated.

Sadly, this annual report as with prior years does not mention a word about how much of a “war chest” they have or how they spend their money.  We know in the past they have spent money that was seen by many to be frivolous and not goal directed.  Just looking at the report one would estimate that it must have cost upwards of $3,000 to print and circulate a slick four page color report.  Maybe they got a better deal, but they won’t say.
 
So why give them more money when they won’t tell us what they have done with the over $300,000 they collected over the past years?  I won’t.

Check out previous articles we have posted on this issue
.  Nothing has changed.

HB2298

Looks like I spoke too soon.  Here is the first bill for the 2016 Legislative Session that impacts LEOFF 1.  We have not yet had the opportunity to fully review this bill so we do not have a position on it.  Please let us know your thoughts. 

HB 2298 - Addressing survivor benefits from the public employees' retirement system for survivors of members in registered domestic partnerships prior to December 2012. If enacted, this bill would provide survivor benefits to the spouses of deceased members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) who were registered domestic partners, later married, but the member died prior to being eligible to add the spouse as a survivor.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Not much has happened around the LEOFF 1 pension system this year.  It was a delight not to have a battle in Olympia.  We almost got a reinstatement of the signup period for those who failed to take advantage of the ability to add a post retirement spouse.  Maybe next session.

Speaking of that, a new session starts in January.  As of now we know of no proposed legislation that would be a danger to our pension plan.  Stay tuned as we will be watching and will keep your updated.

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