Retirement & Health Benefits for April 16, 2021

Fred Yancey | The Nexus Group
Apr 16, 2021
Retirement Blog

Often, the plot goes back and forth the whole way, and I do not know until the very end what the last line of the book is going to be. That will be true here- the very last line of the book will be the last thing that happened. ~ Lynne Perkins

Both houses are engaged in moving bills back and forth in order to get agreement from both bodies on a specific piece of legislation. A few policy bills are being heard until the end when policy bills that are NTIB will be heard and acted upon.

Below is a report on the status of various bills that are still in play and/or have changed status since previous reports.

Retirement Related Proposals

HB 1565 | As a reminder, the House approved a budget amendment offered by Representative Jesse Johnson to grant a one-time 1.5% COLA to TRS1/PERS1 members.

HB 1565 | Introduced to implement this COLA proposal. The bill, clearly NTIB, is still awaiting a public hearing by the House Appropriations Committee. Without it, the COLA will not be funded.

SB 5367 | Directing the department of retirement systems to create rules regarding automatic refunds of retirement contributions in the retirement systems listed in RCW 41.50.030. (This bill passed the House 97-0-1 and has been sent to the Governor.)

SB 5453 | Concerning plans 1 and 2 of the state retirement systems by combining LEROFF 1 and TRS Plan 1 assets to retire the unfunded liability of TRS 1.

Although this bill is ‘dead’, the concept of paying down the unfunded liabilities (UAAL) in TRS1 and PERS1 plans is a sound, fiscal move with strong support of some legislative leaders from both parties.

As a reminder, the Senate budget included a commitment to spend $800 million of the Rainy-Day Fund (to be replaced with Federal dollars) on June 30, 2023, to decrease UAAL in TRS1. The House did nothing on this issue. It remains as one issue to be considered as the negotiators work on a final budget.

Bills are continuing to move that expand various employee benefits and qualifications in such areas as unemployment compensation, family and medical leave, and workmen’s compensation.

Two bills (E2SHB 1073 and ESSB 5097) in the 2021 virtual legislative session are proposing changes.

E2SHB 1073 | expands coverage of the paid family and medical leave program. (The House concurred with the Senate amendments and the bill has been sent to the Governor for his action.)

ESSSB 5097 | expands coverage of the paid family and medical leave program. (The bill passed the House 55-42 and has been sent to the Senate for concurrence.)

ESHB 1214 | Creates the category of safety and security staff for kindergarten through grade 12 public schools. (The Governor signed the bill.)

SHB 1323 | Concerning the long-term services and supports trust program. Among other provisions, it specifies that employees who apply to opt-out of the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program (LTSS Trust Program) must attest to having long-term care insurance prior to the effective date of this act. The bill was amended to allow employees to opt-out by 11/1/2021. The program is to begin 1/1/2022. (The House concurred with the amendments and the bill will be sent to the Governor.)

SHB 1363 | Addressing secondary trauma in the K–12 workforce. (This bill has been sent to the Governor for action.)

ESSB 5115 | Establishing health emergency labor standards. Creates an occupational disease presumption for frontline employees during a public health emergency for the purposes of workers’ compensation. (The bill has been sent to the Governor for action.)

SSB 5425 | Concerning extended benefits in the unemployment insurance system. (The bill has been delivered to the Governor.)

Fred Yancey
The Nexus Group LLC

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