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2015 COLA

The COLA for April 1 will be 1.93%.  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.

Survivor Benefit Extension - UPDATE

A bill dealing with survivor benefits was just dropped in the Senate. This bill is sponsored by Senators Conway, Bailey, Schoesler, Kohl-Welles and had its first reading on Feb 6. It was referred to Ways & Means. As yet I see no companion House bill.

On Feb. 27 the bill was passed out of Ways & Means with a do pass recommendation.  It is now in the Rules Committee.  So, it is a good time to write or email your Senators to get this bill to the floor.

SB 5873 – Creates another opportunity for LEOFF 1 retirees to designate a spouse as a survivor beneficiary. If enacted, this bill would create a one-time window for LEOFF 1 retirees who did not previously designate a post-retirement spouse as a survivor beneficiary, another opportunity to do so.

To qualify, the member must have been married to that spouse for at least two years prior to September 1, 2015. 

The Washington Legislature - 64th Session - Week Four

Week 4 of the current legislative session has come to an end.  There is no news to report in reference to LEOFF 1 issues.  Thankfully we are still off the radar.

LEOFF 2 does have some action:                                                                                             

The primary goal is to maintain the pension contribution rates adopted by the LEOFF 2 Board and uphold the authority of the LEOFF 2 board to set actuarial assumptions and contribution rates for the plan.  A second goal is get the legislature to renew its commitment to the The Local Government Public Safety Enhancement Account that was established in 2009 to provide revenue to the LEOFF pension system and local government public safety.

These are items that will be included in the budget. Both are currently included in the Governor's proposed budget: HB 1106 and  SB 5077

The Legislature is finishing its third week of the session. New bills are still being introduced and committees are meeting regularly. Policy legislation must pass out of committee prior to February 20th.

At this point there appears to be no legislation pending that impacts the LEOFF 1 Pension system.  The only LEOFF pension bill now active is a proposal to extend survivor benefits to LEOFF 2 spouses.
The WSCFF has an ambitious agenda for the 2015 session. Their primary objective continues to be pension funding. They will also be working to: ensure the legislature adopts contribution rates set by the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board and makes required contributions to the Local Public Safety Enhancement Account (Alternate Revenue); advocate for improvements to local government funding mechanisms and the workers’ compensation program; make necessary legislative changes to permit innovative healthcare programs to be operated by fire departments; eliminate toxic flame retardants; and increase oil train safety. 
On January 12th, the legislature began its 64th session. This is a 105 day session, so we are all in danger for the next three months.

The LEOFF 1 good news is that it, as of the first week there are no proposals that amount to an attack on LEOFF 1.  Some of the LEOFF 2 related bills are being heard next week, HB 1194 and SB5346. This legislation allows the surviving spouse of a LEOFF Plan 2 member killed in the course of employment to remarry and continue receiving workers' compensation program.  This bill is seen as positive developments for LEOFF 2.
Quite often a legislator will ask me to stop by to answer a question or to give our opinion on a bill that does not directly affect us as the Retired Firefighters of Washington. Sometimes a newer legislator may have a question about the Prior Pension Act, how or why the LEOFF I Retirement Act was created and why the LEOFF II retirement program was developed. Sometimes they have a question on the COLA, the Surviving Spouse or medical benefits. Any question or inquiry gives us a platform to discuss pension funding, the Backenhus decision and why the LEOFF II Retirement System is inadequate. I can honestly say I have never had a legislator disagree with me when I have given my reasons as to why firefighters and law enforcement officers should not be under Labor & Industries Workers Compensation. The only reason or example one should have to give is the 911 disaster
The recent pension law changes for multiemployer plans continue to raise alarms.  Today another article appeared in the Seattle Times discussing this legislation.  While this does not impact LEOFF 1 it certainly is cause to pay very close attention to the actions of the legislators in the session that starts in just a few days.

Tucked into the federal spending bill President Obama signed last week was a provision that allows “multiemployer” pension plans to cut retirees’ pension checks to avoid running out of money. But some worry that may eventually lead to similar rules for other pension plans.

See the Seattle Times article.
No articles found.