Legislative Updates

 

Legislative updates will be posted regularly during the legislative session and throughout the interim as conditions warrant.

To sign up for legislative alerts, please send your name and email address to peter@wssra.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2022 Legislative Session Updates

An End-of-Session Report will be available in April. 

March 14, 2022 (Week 9 - Final)

Never tell a constituent a bill is dead. That critical advice is drilled into all legislative staffers. It’s stalled; yes, that’s okay. It’s a zombie bill; sure, it gets the point across. On rare occasions the rules are suspended and a bill gets resurrected.

Our dead bill, HB 1699, was resurrected in the final moments of the session. This legislation temporarily increases retiree return to work hours from 867 to 1040. School retirees will be able to substitute in classified and certified positions – excluding central administrative positions – for an additional 21 days or 173 hours. With the current school staffing shortages, there was a strong desire to get additional experienced substitutes in schools. A coalition of school administrator lobbyists and K-12 advocates in the legislature were able to get the legislative rules suspended so HB 1699 could be passed beyond its deadline. Fred Yancey, our contract lobbyist, was the lead player in this accomplishment.

The final budget includes the $183 monthly Medicare Eligible Healthcare Benefit and funding for a Plan 1 COLA increase to take effect July 1.

Senate Bill 5676, instituting a Plan 1 COLA for 2022, has passed the legislature. It has been sent to the Governor for signature.

A WSSRA end-of-session report will be made available in April after the Governor’s bill signings and vetoes are complete.

March 5, 2022 (Week 8)

One week to go!

As usual, there is good and disappointing news to present.

Legislators have passed a Plan 1 COLA for 2022! All Plan 1, Plan 2, and Plan 3 retirees will receive 3% cost of living adjustments in July – assuming they’ve been retired for more than a year.

House and Senate leaders have also committed to maintaining the $183 monthly PEBB benefit that reduces the cost of PEBB Medicare supplemental insurance.

Unfortunately, the Senate did not move HB 1699 – a bill to temporarily increase the number of hours retirees can substitute teach – off the Senate floor. The House of Representatives was very excited about this proposal to help school staffing issues, but that enthusiasm was not shared by senators.

HB 1911 died a few weeks ago on the House floor. This bill would have equalized PEBB retiree health insurance deferral benefits between plans 2 and 3. This bill will be referred to the Select Committee on Pension Policy for review and possible endorsement over the interim.

Over 1000 bills were sponsored this session. Many died but some passed. A few bills of interest to current and future school retirees would create a ROTH retirement savings program within the Department of Retirement Systems, limit insulin costs, create studies on options for controlling prescription drug prices, and backfill K-12 budgets for current reduced enrollment. All four of these specific proposals passed over the past week.

The 2022 Regular Legislative Session must adjourn by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 10.

February 25, 2022 (Week 7)

Day 46/60 -- the legislature is now in the final two weeks of this legislative session. The scene is shaping up. Each chamber has killed off unwanted bills and the budget proposals have been released. How is WSSRA faring? Retirees are having a good session but there have been some late-stage disappointments.

WSSRA is on offense this session. Legislators look set to approve a Plan 1 COLA of 3% up to $110 per month. Legislators have also protected the non-contractual $183 per month medical benefit.

The unfortunate news is legislators were not open to an amendment to increase the Plan 1 COLA and some of WSSRA's supplemental legislative requests have stalled.

HB 1911 to equalize Plan 2/3 retiree PEBB deferrals died on the House floor. It is being referred to the Select Committee on Pension Policy for that committee's potential endorsement. WSSRA will sponsor it again next session.

HB 1699 to expand the number of hours retirees can substitute in classified and certified positions has stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. WSSRA’s coalition partners are working to get the bill moving again.

Other bills of interest to retirees are moving. Legislation to allow a ROTH supplemental savings option for school employees looks to pass. Other legislation to cap insulin at $35 per month for insured individuals and lower prescription drug costs is also seeing some success.

Two weeks to go! 

February 18, 2022 (Week 6)

The legislature has passed another important session deadline. Bills had to be out of their house of origin by Tuesday 2/15 at 5:00 pm. Three of WSSRA's four priorities made the cutoff. HB 1911 didn't make the cutoff. It would have equalized PEBB retiree insurance deferral rights between plans 2 and 3. The bill unfortunately died on the House floor.

SB 5676 to provide a 3% COLA for Plan 1 retirees passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. It will have a public hearing in the Appropriations Committee Tuesday, 2/22 at 3:30 p.m.

Retiree medical benefits are managed through the state budget. The House and Senate budget proposals are due to be released Monday. We have received indications that the medical benefits will be fully funded in the House and Senate Budget proposals.

HB 1699 allowing retirees to work more hours in retirement appears to be fast-tracked. It passed the House of Representatives and is skipping a public hearing in the Senate -- headed straight for an expedited committee vote on Tuesday 2/22 in the Ways and Means Committee.

The next significant deadline for WSSRA's bills is 2/28 when they have to be out of committees and sent to the floor. The 2022 Legislative Session is scheduled to adjourn 3/10.

Peter D.

February 11, 2022 (Week 5)

WSSRA Legislative Update 2/11/22 (Week 5)

WSSRA's bills are still moving ahead of critical legislative session deadlines. Two bills are off the House and Senate floor and have been referred to the opposite chambers. The other two need to receive floor votes before the 2/15 voting deadline.

Here is the bill status update:

House Bill 1721 (Plan 1 COLA) is ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 5676 (Plan 1 COLA) has passed the Senate and is awaiting action by the House Appropriations Committee.

House Bill 1699 (Increasing Post-Employment Work Hours) has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting action by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

House Bill 1911 (Equalizing PEBB Deferral Rights Between Plans 2/3) has passed the House Rules Committee and is ready for a floor vote by the entire House of Representatives.

February 15 is the next critical deadline -- all bills must be passed out of their house of origin by that day at 5:00 p.m. On Tuesday 2/16 legislators will revert to committee hearings and scrutinize bills that passed the opposite chamber.

House and Senate Democrats have released a transportation package. It is $16 billion in total. It contains $3 billion for road repairs, $3 billion for transit, and other large sums for major infrastructure projects like the I-5 bridge between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR.

February 4, 2022 (Week 4)

WSSRA's signature legislation for 2022 continues to move ahead of critical legislative deadlines. Bills are required to be out of their committees by midnight on Monday, February 7 -- ours have all been moved to the House or Senate floor.

HB 1721 / SB 5676 (Plan 1 COLA). HB 1721 is on the House floor ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives. SB 5676 has passed the Senate 47-0. These bills will provide a 3% Plan 1 pension increase up to $110 per month.

HB 1699 (Increasing Retiree Work Hours). HB 1699 is ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives. This bill would increase the hours a retiree can work without losing pension benefits from 867 to 1040 hours. The increase would expire in the year 2025. WSSRA is working closely with OSPI and the school administrators’ association on this bill.

HB 1911 (Equalizing Plan 2/3 Retiree Medical Benefits). This bill is highly technical. In summary, it gives Plan 2 members the same rights as Plan 3 members to defer their PEBB retiree coverage. Under current law, it’s easier for Plan 2 employees to get locked out of participating in PEBB. The bill is in the House Rules Committee and has one step to go before the House floor.

Please feel free to write to your legislators about any or all of these proposals.

Peter D.

January 28, 2022 (Week 3)

The legislature continues its fast pace. WSSRA's bills are moving through committees well ahead of important deadlines. Today is day 19 of the session -- almost 1/3 done.

The Select Committee on Pension Policy Plan 1 COLA bills are both teed-up for floor votes in the House and Senate. Please ask your legislators to bring those bills to a vote. Both bills would provide a 3% pension increase up to $110 per month. These bills can be amended on the floor -- asking for an increase to 5.9% (to match the Social Security increase) is still relevant at this stage.

Our other bills are parked in the House Rules Committee. HB 1699 increases the number hours retirees can work in schools without losing their pension benefits. HB 1911 equalizes retirement insurance deferral rights between Plans 2 and 3. To lobby for either  bill, simply email your legislators and ask it or they be "pulled from the House Rules Committee to the floor and brought to a vote".

There is also peripheral legislation that would improve the lives of seniors. Proposals include:

- Adding a ROTH savings option to the Deferred Compensation program.

- Capping insulin at $35 per month.

- Protecting seniors from phone and internet scammers.

Please send an email to peter@wssra.org if you have any questions. 

January 21, 2022 (Week 2)


The legislative session is up to a fast start. All WSSRA's request legislation received public hearings this week.

Two identical Plan 1 COLA bills were heard in the House (HB 1721) and Senate (SB 5676) on Monday, January 17. Both received support, except from the association of counties and cities that testified against the proposals. Both bills passed out of their committees unanimously on Thursday evening. We asked for the 3% COLA be increased to match the 5.9% Social Security increase, but no legislators would offer that amendment. The bills now go to the respective House and Senate Rules Committees for review by legislative leadership.

HB 1699 to temporarily increase the number of hours retirees can work in schools to from 867 to 1040 received a public hearing Thursday, 1/20. This bill needs a vote by the House Appropriations Committee.

Equalizing Plan 2/3 PEBB benefits. HB 1911 would equalize the PEBB retiree insurance deferral rights between Plan 2 and Plan 3 employees. Currently, Plan 3 employees can defer their retiree insurance if they separate from service without immediately drawing a pension check. This bill allows Plan 2 employees to do that as well. HB 1911 received a public hearing in House Appropriations on Thursday, 1/20. It also needs an affirmative committee vote before it can move on.

In sum, Plan 1 COLA is in the Rules Committees, the other bills are in House Appropriations waiting for votes. 

January 14, 2022 (Week 1)

The legislative session is off to a fast start.

Legislators have scheduled Plan 1 COLA bills for two public hearings on Monday, January 17. The House version, HB 1721, will have a public hearing in the Appropriations Committee at 3:30 p.m. The Senate bill, SB 5676, will receive a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 4:00 p.m.

The bills are identical. They would each provide a 3% increase up to $110 per month. This is the bill that was recommend by the Select Committee on Pension Policy and was included in Governor Inslee's budget proposal.

We are asking legislators to increase the 3% to 5.9% so it matches the current social security increase.

Please write to your legislators and ask for their support. If you use the link below, you can send a message directly to legislators on those two committees. Just follow the link and enter your message -- a sample one is filled out for you. The program will send it to the correct legislators.

Link: https://www.votervoice.net/WSSRA/campaigns/90457/respond 

Two other WSSRA bills are scheduled for public hears. HB 1699 to increase the amount of hours retirees can work without losing pension benefits will be heard in House Appropriations on 1/20.

HB 1911 to equalize Plan 2 and Plan 3 retiree insurance deferral benefits is also scheduled for a public hearing in House Appropriations on 1/20. 

Please be sure to use the link to contact the budget committees about the Plan 1 COLA bills. 

January 10, 2022 (Week 0)

Today is the first day of the 2022 Legislative Session. WSSRA is leading / coordinating four legislative proposals.

1. Passing plan 1 COLA legislation (HB 1721 & SB 5676). The Select Committee on Pension Policy has recommended a 3% COLA for plan 1 retirees. That measure must still pass the legislature before he March 10 deadline. We are working to get the COLA increased to match the Social Security increase of 5.9%.

2. Protecting the $183 Medicare Eligible Healthcare Benefit.

3. Supporting OSPI's legislation to get more retirees working in schools part-time (HB 1699).

4. Equalizing healthcare benefits for plan 2 and plan 3 retirees (HB 1911 & SB 5700). Plan 3 members have more rights to defer their PEBB retirement insurance.

The are a few other bills WSSRA will be supporting. Senate Bill 5748 and HB 1669 improve disability benefits in PERS 2. Senate Bill 5546 limits insulin costs to $35 per month for private insurance plans. HB 1752 creates a ROTH Option in the Deferred Compensation program for state and school employees.

Right now, the best thing you can do is to ask your legislators to be co-sponsors of our top bills.

WSSRA's previous legislative post mentioned a fifth bill -- it had unintended policy consequences and needs some additional legal work.

 

December 14, 2021

It is still before Christmas, but the Washington State Legislature is already busy. Bill pre-filing started December 6. Legislators are being limited on the number of bills they can sponsor, so there is jockeying happening over who's bills will get sponsored. This will be a 60-day session. It is scheduled to run January 10 through March 10.

This session will be a mix of online and in-person. The Senate is doing more in-person work than the House of Representatives. Some constituent meetings will be in-person -- either in offices or coffee shops. Floor sessions will mostly be conducted in-person. Committee hearings will exclusively be online.

WSSRA's legislative team is actively working five issues this session: 

1. Passing plan 1 COLA legislation. The Select Committee on Pension Policy has recommended a 3% COLA for plan 1 retirees. That measure must still pass the legislature before he March 10 deadline. We are working to get the COLA increased to match the Social Security increase of 5.9%.


2. Protecting the $183 Medicare Eligible Healthcare Benefit.


3. Supporting OSPI's legislation to get more retirees working in schools part-time.


4. Equalizing healthcare benefits for plan 2 and plan 3 retirees. Plan 3 members have more rights to defer their PEBB retirement insurance.


5. Allowing teachers to collect a COLA the summer after they retire. Many school employees who retire over the summer go without retirement COLA for 22 months. WSSRA would see that fixed.

The WSSRA political team will also continue its work for full pension funding.

This page will be updated every Friday during the legislative session, and as conditions warrant. 

 

Please view the 2021 Bill Report for a final analysis of the 2021 Legislative Session

 

 

To Serve, Not To Be Served