Legislation

The 2016 regular session of the 64th Legislature convened Jan. 11 and adjourned March 10. The 2016 1st special session convened March 10 and adjourned March 29.

Pension-Related Bills — 2016 Session

Below is a list of pension-related bills introduced or carried over in 2016. The first section contains bills passed by both houses of the Legislature; bills signed by the governor or otherwise enacted are marked by an asterisk (*). The second section contains bills introduced but not passed.

For more information on legislation and the legislative process, visit the Washington State Legislature's website.

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Pension-Related Bills Passed for the 2016 Session

Click on the bill number for more detailed information about the legislation.

House Bill Number Senate Bill Number Title
  SB 5435* SB 5435 - Addressing optional salary deferral programs
When implemented, this bill will automatically enroll new state employees in the Washington State Deferred Compensation Program (DCP) with a default contribution rate of 3 percent. Employees will have the opportunity to opt out or set their own contribution rates. The bill also gives DRS the option to offer a 401(a) money-purchase retirement savings plan. (*Signed by the governor 3/31/16.)
  SB 5873* SB 5873 - Creating another opportunity for LEOFF Plan 1 retirees to designate a spouse as a survivor beneficiary
This bill gives a LEOFF Plan 1 retiree a chance to name as survivor a spouse he or she married after retiring. To qualify, the marriage needs to have spanned at least two years before Sept. 1, 2015. (*Signed by the governor 3/31/16.)
  SB 6091* SB 6091 - Changing the definition of a slayer
This bill clarifies the definition of “slayer” to include persons found not guilty by reason of insanity. A slayer is not entitled to receive a retirement benefit from the person he or she killed. (*Signed by the governor 4/1/16.)
  SB 6194* SB 6194 - Charter schools
This bill allows charter school employees to be members of the state retirement systems as long as DRS receives determination from the IRS that the inclusion of those employees does not jeopardize the status of the systems as governmental plans. (*Became law without the governor's signature 4/3/16.)
  SB 6263* SB 6263 - LEOFF 2 disaster coverage
This bill impacts LEOFF Plan 2 members who are called into eligible federal service to respond to natural disasters or other federal emergencies. It will provide them with benefit protections similar to the ones provided to members of the National Guard or military reserves who are called during a time of war. (*Signed by the governor 4/1/16.)
  SB 6264* SB 6264 - Allowing certain Washington State Patrol Retirement System and Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' to purchase annuities.
This bill allows retirees of LEOFF and WSPRS a six-month window to purchase an annuity. The annuity may be purchased between Jan. 1 and June 1, 2017. (*Signed by the governor 3/31/16.)
  SB 6455* SB 6455 - Expanding the professional educator workforce by increasing career opportunities in education, creating more robust enrollment forecasting and enhancing recruitment efforts
This bill allows TRS members who retired using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors (ERFs) to return to work as substitute teachers. This provision will be in effect from June 9, 2016, until Aug. 1, 2020. Note: Effective dates corrected 4/12/16. (*Signed by the governor 4/1/16.)
  SB 6523* SB 6523 - Service credit for certain emergency services employees
This bill allows an employee providing emergency medical services to a consortium of local governments to choose to establish service credit in PERS for service performed before July 23, 2003, if the service was performed in a county whose current population is more than 700,000 residents but less than 800,000 residents. The employee must pay both the employer and employee contribution, as calculated by DRS, within five years of choosing to establish service credit. (*Signed by the governor 4/1/16.)

Pension-Related Bills Introduced (But Not Passed) for the 2016 Session

Click on the bill number for more detailed information about the legislation.

House Bill Number Senate Bill Number Title
HB 1322   HB 1322 – Amending estoppel criteria to only apply to those eligible for “normal” retirement
Currently, members eligible for retirement in certain plans are prevented (estopped) from joining a different retirement system. If enacted, this bill would amend the estoppel criteria to state that a member would be estopped from membership in a retirement system if the retirement eligibility for another system is a “normal” retirement. Those who are not eligible for a full retirement, but only a retirement benefit calculated under alternate retirement criteria, such as early retirement, would no longer be estopped from membership in another system based on this section, and would therefore be mandated into membership unless excluded by other criteria.
HB 1718   HB 1718 – Adding additional employers and job types to membership in PSERS
If enacted, this bill would add the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Social and Health Services as PSERS employers. Additionally, the bill would modify eligibility for the plan to add employees at state institutions or centers, and local government PSERS employers, who provide regular nursing care or who ensure the custody and safety of offender, probationary, or patient populations.
HB 1737   HB 1737 - Allowing 2008 ERF TRS retirees to return to work as substitute teachers
If enacted, this bill would allow Teachers’ Retirement System members who retired using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors (ERFs) to return to work as substitute teachers. They would be able to work 630 hours per school year while still receiving their retirement benefits. This provision would be in effect until Aug. 1, 2019.
HB 2298   HB 2298 - Addressing survivor benefits from the Public Employees' Retirement System for survivors of members in registered domestic partnerships prior to December 2012
If enacted, this bill would provide survivor benefits to the spouses of deceased members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) who were registered domestic partners, later married, but the member died prior to being eligible to add the spouse as a survivor.
HB 2333   HB 2333 - Providing a choice between membership in PERS 2 and 3 for employees age twenty-five or less in subsequent terms of employment
If enacted, this bill would allow Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) members to change between Plan 2 and Plan 3 as long as they are age 25 or younger, have a valid separation from employment and have a different employer.
HB 2495   HB 2495 - Military service credit for Washington State Patrol Retirement System
If enacted, this bill would impact which Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS) members receive service credit for interruptive military service. Currently, members receive service credit for interruptive military service only if it occurs between being employed at the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and returning to the WSP. This bill would extend service credit for interruptive military service to those who don’t begin at the WSP but do become employed with the WSP after their military service ends as well as those who do begin at the WSP but don’t return to it.
HB 2573 SB 6332 HB 2573/SB 6332 - Concerning the shortage of public school teachers and substitute teachers
If enacted, this bill would allow Teachers’ Retirement System members who retired using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors (ERFs) to return to work as substitute teachers.
HB 2646   HB 2646 - Plan 2 default for PERS, SERS and TRS
If enacted, Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) members who fail to choose between Plan 2 and Plan 3 within 90 days of initial employment would default into Plan 2. Currently, such members default into Plan 3.
HB 2855   HB 2855 - Service credit for prior military service in Teachers’ Retirement System
If enacted, this bill would allow Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) members to receive service credit for military service served prior to becoming a TRS member. Currently, members can receive service credit for interruptive military service when they stop working for a TRS employer to enter military service and return to TRS employment after their military duty ends. Under this bill, the total service credit provided for both prior and interruptive military service cannot exceed five years.
  SB 6433 SB 6433 - Pension forfeiture
If enacted, a public employee convicted of a felony for misconduct associated with his or her position would forfeit his or her pension. The employee’s contributions, without interest, would be returned to the employee. The court would have the discretion to award a portion of the forfeited pension to a spouse or dependent(s) depending on the circumstances of the situation. This bill would apply to misconduct committed once the bill becomes law.
  SB 6434 SB 6434 - Pension garnishment
If enacted, the pension of a public employee convicted of a felony for misconduct that was associated with his or her position could be garnished through a court order to pay for incarceration, probation, parole and/or restitution. This bill would apply to misconduct committed after July 1, 2016.
  SB 6439 SB 6439 - Addressing volunteer fire fighters and reserve officers assisting with multiregional state emergencies
If enacted, the hours volunteer fire fighters and reserve officers work battling state wildfires or assisting with other large-scale multiregional state emergencies wouldn’t be used in determining Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) eligibility.
  SB 6622 SB 6622 - Prohibiting the assignment of retirement benefits
If enacted, this bill would prohibit the assignment of retirement benefits through a loan, advance, transfer or other scheme. A pension assignee found to be in violation of this prohibition would be liable for full repayment of the assigned benefits.
  SB 6668 SB 6668 – Merging the assets, liabilities and membership of LEOFF Plan 1 with TRS Plan 1
If enacted, this bill would merge the assets, liabilities and membership of the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System Plan 1 (LEOFF Plan 1) with the Teachers’ Retirement System Plan 1 (TRS Plan 1). Currently, these are separate systems with separate trust funds from which benefits of each system are paid. If the LEOFF Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 merger is approved, all benefits and pension amounts payable to members of each system would remain the same. However, LEOFF Plan 1 retirees and survivors would receive one-time payments of $5,000; LEOFF Plan 1 active and vested inactive members would receive the $5,000 payment upon retirement.

Voice your opinion on any bill by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Watch or listen to hearings on TVW.