Retirement & Health Benefits for February 11, 2022

Fred Yancey, The Nexus Group LLC
Feb 11, 2022

Retirement Blog

“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.” ~ Margaret Thatcher

Each chamber is now engaged in floor sessions deciding the fate of various bills. Committee action is at a minimum. The next critical deadline is Feb. 15th when bills need to be out of their house of origin and committee hearings restart.

As an annual reminder, no bill is ever ‘dead’ until Sine Die, and any bill deemed ‘necessary to implement the budget’ (NTIB) remains alive until the bitter end.

Below is a brief report on selected bills that are still ‘alive’ noting the caveat above. Because of the speed as legislators race to meet cut-off dates, the irregularly scheduled floor actions, and the deadline of this report, the status of some bills may change.

Just an FYI. (For Your Information). A reminder that many bills sitting in Rules’ Committees and/or on the floor calendars of each chamber never move beyond those positions and they ‘die’.

Retirement Related Proposals

ESHB 1699 | Permitting individuals retired from the public employees’ retirement system, the teachers’ retirement system, and the school employees’ retirement system additional opportunities to work for a school district for up to 1,040 hours per school year while in receipt of pension benefits until July 1, 2025. An emergency clause was added and the bill was amended on the floor that adds that retirees that retired from service before January 1, 2022, and that work for a school district with fewer than 2,000 students may continue to receive pension payments for up to 1,040 hours per school year until July 1, 2025, if employed as a district superintendent or an in-school administrator.

Comment: This bill as amended passed the House 93/3/2 and was moved to the Senate Ways and Means’ Committee for scheduling for a public hearing.

HB 1721/SB 5676 | Providing a benefit increase to certain retirees of the public employees’ retirement system plan 1 and the teachers’ retirement system plan 1.

Summary: This bill would provide a 3% increase not to exceed $110/month for TRS1/PERS1 Plan retirees.

Comment: Although this bill is on the floor calendar, it appears that SB 5676 below will be the vehicle for further action.

SB 5676/HB 1721 | Providing a benefit increase to certain retirees of the public employees’ retirement system plan 1 and the teachers’ retirement system plan 1.

Summary: SB 5676 was passed by the Senate 47/0/2 and has been sent to the House Appropriations Committee awaiting scheduling.

EHB 1752 | Adding a Roth option to deferred compensation plans.

Comment: Passed the House 96/0 and has been sent to Senate Ways and Means for scheduling. It contains a ‘null and void’ provision subject to funding in the budget.

HB 1804 | Concerning interruptive military service credit for members of the state retirement systems.

Comment: This bill expands the definition of veteran for purposes of veterans’ benefits in state pension systems, legal assistance, scoring criteria on civil service exams, and other programs, to include members that were awarded an expeditionary medal. It passed the House 96/0 and has been sent to Senate Ways and Means for scheduling.

Other areas of potential fiscal impact to districts:

HB 1486 | Concerning qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work.

The Rules Committee was relieved of further consideration and this bill was moved to the floor calendar awaiting action.

HB 1613 | Concerning shared reporting responsibilities for both the paid family and medical leave and the long-term services and supports trust programs to clarify that information collected from employer reports shall remain private.

Comment: This bill passed the House 86/9 and was sent to the Senate.

SHB 1617 | Aligning state and school holidays. The legislature intends to clarify that Juneteenth, like all other state legal holidays, is a school holiday on which school may not be taught.

Comment: This bill passed the House 88/8/2 and is scheduled for a public hearing on 2/16 before the Senate Ed Committee.

SHB 1644 | Expands allowable uses of school districts’ transportation vehicle funds to include purchase, installation, and repair of vehicle charging stations and other zero-emission fueling stations, and feasibility studies to transition to electric or zero-emission vehicles for pupil transportation •

Comment: This bill passed the House 88/8 and has been sent to the Senate Ways and Means’ Committee.

SHB 1732 | This bill delays the start date for the premium assessments under the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program (LTSS Trust Program) from January 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023. Delays the date benefits become available under the LTSS Trust Program from January 1, 2025, to July 1, 2026. Allows individuals born before January 1, 1968, who do not meet the LTSS Trust Program’s vesting requirements, to receive partial benefits based on the number of years of premium payments. Requires employers to refund employees any LTSS Trust premiums collected before July 1, 2023.

Comment: This bill has been signed by the Governor effective January 27th, 2022.

ESHB 1733 | Establishing voluntary exemptions to the long-term services and supports trust program for certain populations. This bill establishes exemptions from the payment of premiums under the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program for certain veterans, spouses and registered domestic partners of military service members, nonimmigrant temporary workers, and employees who work in Washington and maintain a primary residence outside of Washington.

Comment: This bill has passed both Houses and was signed by the Governor. Effective June 9, 2022.

SHB 1759 | Requiring school districts and other public education entities to make information from the department of health about substance use trends, overdose symptoms and response, and the secure storage of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and firearms and ammunition, available through their websites and other communication resources.

Comment: This bill passed the House 66/30 and has been sent to Senate Education Committee for scheduling.

SHB 1763 | Concerning injured workers’ rights during independent medical examinations. This bill allows an injured worker to make an audio and video recording of an independent medical examination (IME), and to have one person of the worker’s choosing present during the examination.

Comment: This bill is in House Rules.

ESHB 1795 | Makes void and unenforceable provisions in agreements between an employer and employee that prohibit the disclosure of conduct that is illegal discrimination, harassment, retaliation, a wage and hour violation, or sexual assault, or that is against a clear mandate of public policy, occurring in the workplace.

Comment: This bill passed the House 56/40 and was moved to Senate Labor Committee for scheduling.

2SHB 1803 | Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, beginning with the 2022–23 school year, to annually distribute legislatively appropriated funds to each school district in an amount equaling $3,000 for each member of the school district board of directors (Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose). Increases the maximum daily compensation that school directors may receive from $50 to $100, and the annual compensation limit from $4,800 to $7,800. • Allows school directors to receive reimbursement for childcare costs associated with attending meetings. Directs the Department of Commerce to complete an examination of actual and potential school director compensation with a report.

Comment: This bill is in House Rules.

2SHB 1810 | Requires original manufacturers of digital electronic products sold on or after January 1, 2023, to make certain documentation, parts, and tools available to owners and independent repair providers on fair and reasonable terms.

Comments: School districts testified that this could aid them in doing self-repairs and saving money. The bill remains in Rules. It has generated opposition from companies like Apple who see it as cutting into their fee-based services.

HB 1837 | This bill repeals the restriction on the regulation of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics.

Comment: This bill has been sent to Rules.

SHB 1992 | Concerning vacation leave accrual for public employees. This bill increases the cap on accrued vacation leave for state employees from 240 hours to 280 hours. Removes limits on the maximum amount of sick leave a school district employee may accumulate or use for the purposes of unused-leave compensation. Requires school districts to establish an emergency leave pool for staff who become ill or need to quarantine.

Comment: This bill is on the House Calendar awaiting further action.

E2SSB 5155 | Concerning prejudgment interest. This bill, as amended, starts interest running on a judgment entered following trial of the matter and arbitration awards for tortious conduct, other than medical malpractice claims, from the date on which the cause of action accrues for individuals and entities, but not public agencies. Starts interest running on a judgment for a medical malpractice claim from the date of entry of judgment.

Comment: This bill passed the Senate 31/18. It has been scheduled for a public hearing before the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee on 2/16 and executive session on 2/18.

SSB 5326 | Concerning health and pension benefits for school bus drivers employed by private nongovernmental entities. This bill Provides that school districts may only enter into pupil transportation service contracts with nongovernmental entities that provide health and retirement benefit contributions to their employees equivalent to those received by school employees.

Comment: This bill was resurrected from last session and has been placed on the Senate floor calendar awaiting action. Two striking amendments have been proposed and are being analyzed. A quick read is that they do not change the substance of the original bill.

ESSB 5628 | Concerning cyber harassment, addressing concerns in the case of Rynearson v. Ferguson, and adding a crime of cyberstalking. It renames the crime of cyberstalking to cyber harassment and amends the elements of that crime. Creates the crime of cyberstalking. It permits victims of cyber harassment to apply to the secretary of state’s address confidentiality program and includes election officials.

Comment: This whole area of internet ‘bullying’ either at or outside of school is a landmine of potential liability for districts. This bill passed the Senate 49/0 and has been sent to the House for scheduling.

SB 5539 | Concerning state funding for educational service districts. This bill requires that state funding be provided to each educational service district (ESD) for the employer cost of school employees’ benefits for employees of the ESD that are covered by collective bargaining.

Comment: This bill passed the Senate 28/21 and has been sent to House Appropriations for scheduling.

SSB 5564 | Protecting the confidentiality of employees using employee assistance programs.

Comment: This bill passed the Senate 45/4 and has been sent to the House for scheduling.

SSB 5649 | Modifying the Washington state paid family and medical leave act. This bill provides that an allowable purpose for family leave is any leave taken by an employee during the seven calendar days following the death of the family member for whom the employee would have qualified to take medical leave for the birth of their child or would have qualified for family bonding leave. Specifies that leave taken by certain employees in the first six weeks after giving birth must be medical leave, unless the employee chooses to use family leave.

Comment: It is currently in Rules.

ESSB 5761 | Concerning employer requirements for providing wage and salary information to applicants for employment. This bill modifies the requirements to provide wage information to require employers to provide the wage scale or salary range in job postings and to include a general description of all benefits and other compensation, rather than providing wage and salary information only upon request of an applicant after the initial job offer. Removes the requirement that if no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation prior to posting the position, making a position transfer, or making the promotion. Limits the persons who are entitled to remedies to a job applicant or an employee.

Comment: This bill passed the Senate 27/21 and has been sent to the House.

SSB 5835 | Concerning workers’ compensation. This bill provides the same percentages of the worker’s wages to be received by an injured worker for a permanent and temporary total disability whether a worker is married or unmarried. Removes the requirement that an injured worker be married to receive an additional $10 per month when the worker is receiving the minimum monthly payments for a permanent or temporary total disability.

Comment: It is currently in Rules.

ESSB 5873 | Concerning unemployment insurance, family leave, and medical leave premiums. This bill decreases the maximum Unemployment Insurance (UI) social cost factor for 2022 and 2023 and sets a maximum UI rate class for the purposes of the percentage of the social cost factor to be paid by small businesses in 2023.

Comment: This bill passed the Senate 48/1 and has been sent to the House Appropriations for scheduling.

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