Legislative Insight

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.

 

Week 5 Report

PART A - Plan 1 COLA Update

The Plan 1 COLA bills have moved from their policy and budget committees to the House and Senate Rules Committees where they can be brought to The House Floor and Senate Floor for votes.

We need your help!

Please contact your legislators and ask that House Bill 1390 be pulled from the House Rules Committee to the House Floor and that SB 5400 be pulled from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate Floor. Contact information is available here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

PART B - Medical & Other Pension Issues

The WSSRA lobbying team is always worried about cuts to the Medicare Eligible Healthcare Benefit. Last year the benefit was increased to its pre-recession peak of $183 per month. The situation looks positive this year. House and Senate fiscal committees are considering an increase to the benefit and cuts are not on the table at this time.

HB 2341 & SB 6383 would improve Plan 3 and the Deferred Compensation Program by letting employees invest their private retirement savings in the state's pension trust fund. HB 2341 is the House Rules Committee and SB 6383 has passed the Senate on a 47-0 vote.

SB 6087, SB 6113, and HB 2662 are aimed at reducing insulin costs. Those bills are moving ahead of deadlines and look to have good traction. Senate Bills 6087 and SB 6113 are in the Senate Rules Committee. HB 2662 is in the House Rules Committee.

SB 6088 would create a price review board at the State Healthcare Authority with authority to manage prices for new high cost specialty and biologic drugs. SB 6088 is awaiting a vote on the Senate Floor.

Two bills we supported to ease the importation of drugs from Canada have died. The Trump Administration has been taking action on this issue, and it is likely these bills will resurface in the next legislative session.

Week 4 Report:

Wrapping up Week 4 at the Legislature. A big thanks to our members who came out to Lobby Day, the WSSRA Legislative Committee, and the WSSRA Executive Board Meeting.

The conclusion of week 4 marks the first legislative cutoff deadline. Non budget / fiscal bills must move out of their committee of origin, or they will not be considered in the next step of the process.

Some good news to report. The Senate Ways and Means Committee has taken some action on the Plan 1 COLA. The committee held a public hearing on SB 5400 (Plan 1 COLA) late in the evening on Thursday the 6th. It appears that the committee is getting ready to vote the bill out early next week. The House version, HB 1390, remains in the House Rules Committee.

Two identical bills, HB 2341 and SB 6383, to improve investment options in Plan 3 and the Deferred Compensation program are moving ahead of deadline. HB 2341 is in the House Rules Committee and SB 6383 is in the Senate Rules Committee.

Three bills to lower insulin prices are also performing well. SB 6087 would limit out of pocket costs to $100 per month. SB 6113 would allow for bulk insulin purchasing by the state managed health plans. Both bills are in the Senate Rules Committee. A Republican sponsored House version of 6087 (HB 2662) has moved to the House Rules Committee. SB 6088 to create a drug price review board may be stuck in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. We will know more on SB 6088 early next week.

Week 3 Report:

Today concludes Week 3 at the Legislature. It is day 19 of this 60 day short legislative session.

A quick update on the Plan 1 COLA and Retiree Medical. Both items are part of the budget process, and we will not learn any additional information until the February 19th tax revenue forecast. Rank and file members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee have made formal budget requests to include a Plan 1 COLA in the budget. Appropriators are also considering an increase to the Medicare Eligible Healthcare Benefit. If you are on Plan 1 and have not contacted your legislators about a COLA, please do so now.

The WSSRA Executive Board and WSSRA State Legislative Committee are in Olympia next week. Also, Tuesday, February 4th has been set up as a lobby day for our members. We are looking forward to seeing those of you coming to Olympia.

It is exciting that three bills on lowering the cost of insulin are progressing well. SB 6087, SB 6113, and HB 2662 would all cap insulin prices. The result would be huge price decreases for those who need it, as well as reduced costs to the PEBB retiree plans.

HB 2341 and SB 6383 would allow Plan 3 and Deferred Compensation participants to purchase shares of the state's pension fund with the defined contribution portion of their retirement accounts. Those bills have successfully moved out of policy committee and are headed towards Rules Committee and hopefully Floor votes.

Week 2 Report:

This week WSSRA supported two bills to improve investment options in Plan 3 and the Deferred Compensation program. House Bill 2341 and Senate Bill 6383 would allow employees to purchase shares of the state's pension fund with the private savings in their state retirement accounts. HB 2341 is scheduled for a committee vote in House Appropriations on January 29th.

WSSRA registered concerns with Senate Bills 6189 and 6290. They would restrict substitute teachers from being eligible for school health benefits.

Two bills WSSRA is supporting to lower insulin costs are moving forward. SB 6087 would subsidize insulin costs accross insurance plans. SB 6113 would create a centralized insulin purchasing program for government employees, government retirees, and Medicaid participants. Both bills passed the Senate Healthcare Committee and have been referred to Senate Ways and Means where they will receive hearings on Wednesday, January 29th.

Week 1 Report:

Week 1 at the Legislature is wrapping up and it was a busy one for school retirees. WSSRA members testified on the Governor's proposal for a $22 per month Plan 1 increase. Testimony stated that retirees appreciated the Governor giving attention to the issue, but the $22 monthly increase is completely insufficient.

WSSRA also testified in support of five AARP Washington bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs. SB 6087 and SB 6113 would lower insulin prices. SB 6088 would create a prescription drug affordability board. Senate Bills 6110 and 6111 would make importing prescription drugs from Canada easier.

2020 Legislative Preview:

The 2020 Washington State Legislative Session Beings January 13th. This year we are working to:

  • Provide a COLA for Plan 1 retirees.
  • Maintain the health benefit improvements gained in the 2019 Legislative Session.
  • Reduce the retirement age for members in Plans 2 & 3.

Governor Inslee did include a Pan 1 increase in his budget propsal. Unfortunately is was a very small increase of $22 per month. The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee will be reviewing the Governor's Plan 1 proposal during the first week of the legislaive session.

WSSRA is fully supporting AARP Washington in their effort to lower prescription drug prices this legislative session. AARP Washington is sponsoring five bills to support that effort.

To Serve, Not To Be Served