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The National Association of State Retirement Administrators has published a February 2014 brief on cost of living adjustments (COLA) for state and local retirement income.

Most state and local governments provide a COLA for the purpose of offsetting or reducing the effects of inflation, which erodes the purchasing power of retirement income. Such depreciation can affect the sufficiency of retirement benefits, particularly for those who are unable to supplement their income due to disability or advanced age.

Social Security beneficiaries are provided an annual COLA to maintain recipients’ purchasing power. Similarly, most state and local governments provide an inflation adjustment to their retiree pension benefits.

Week eight (March 3 - 8) is over and just six days remain until the Legislature adjourns -- Thursday of next week.  After 5 PM today, March 7, the only remaining business will be finalizing the budget, bill necessary to implement the budget, and reconciling the differences between bill that have passed both the Senate and the House.

At this point, it continues to appear that LEOFF 1 has not been impacted or hurt by actions during this session. 

We are reproducing here part of the WACOPS legislative summary for the week.  Our focus is on pension matters, so we have excluded a number of other areas dealing with now pension issues. Although LEOFF 1 and WACOPS have disagreed over issues in the past, we have no current issues and they produce an excellent review of legislative activity. 

Week 7 ended on February 28th.  So far, nothing has surfaced in this legislative session that we see as a threat to LEOFF 1.  This late in the session we are beginning to think we will get through the entire session without any big issues. The following is a report on Week 7 by Jamie Daniels of WACOPS.

February 28th was the last day for bills from the opposite chamber to pass out of policy committees. March 3rd will be the last day for fiscal bills to pass. March 7th will be the last day for legislation to be passed on the floor by the House and Senate. Remember that there are always exceptions to these cut off dates. The most notable exception are bills that are necessary to implement to budget (NTIB).
WACOPS issues a weekly report on the Legislative Session.  While in past sessions we have found ourselves in conflict with some WACOPS policies, we still share many of the same goals.  They have a paid staff in Olympia and do a good job of covering the legislature.  As always, we will point out and disagreements in policy issue, but as of now we have no policy conflicts.

At this point we are one-third of the way through the 60-day Legislative Session. Committees are in full swing this week and next in the run up to the first bill cutoff on Friday, February 7th.

Any policy bill that is not necessary for the implementation of the budget must be passed out of its original committee by that date.
The 2014 Legislative Session was called to order on Monday January 13, 2014. The session is scheduled for sixty days in the even numbered years. This being an election year, the goal for our elected officials will be to complete the business in sixty days. Education funding is always an issue especially now with the Supreme Court McCleary  Decision, a mandate to fully fund K -12 education by 2018. With the talk of a huge transportation package I’m sure the threat of a ten cent increase in the gas tax is on the voter’s minds. It seems like yesterday we had an increase in the gas tax of nine cents a gallon. One has to wonder how we built and maintained the highways, bridges and other infrastructure years ago when gas was twenty-four cents a gallon and fewer car owners were purchasing gas.

Well, it has been a quiet lull as the legislature has been out of session.  But with a new session about to begin, it is time to be on the alert. 

So far the only thing that has surfaced is a proposal being brought forward by the LEOFF 2 Board that would restrict the opportunity of a retired LEOFF member to be re-hired in a similar capacity by any organization that is within the system.

Fall Update

There is really no news to report right now.  The legislature is having a very short special session and quickly moved to grant the largest tax incentive ever by giving Boeing 8.7 billion in tax waivers.  That was not enough to convince the union to go along with the proposed contract.  So now we just wait and see what happens.  The good news is that no one has come up with any proposals that impact LEOFF 1.  The regular session will start in January so we will be closely tracking things to see if anything pops up.  Hopefully the current calm will continue.

Summer Update

It has been a real delight to have the legislature out of session.  That has provided a bit of extra time to enjoy this great summer.  We have had our ears to the ground, and so far, the have been no indications of any planned legislation that might impact LEOFF 1. 

However, that does not mean it is not on some people’s minds.  While SB 5916 did die in the last session, the bill is primarily focused on so called “pension spiking” or “excess compensation”. more...
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