DRS E-mail 10-009, Legislative Summary

  • Notice No.: 10-009
  • Date: June 10, 2010
  • Applies to: All Employers
  • Subject: DRS E-mail 10-009, Legislative Summary

The Legislature adjourned the 2010 session after passing 7 retirement related bills. This legislative summary includes effective dates, dates signed by the Governor and a short description of each bill.

Select Committee on Pension Policy Proposals:

HB 1541 - Past Part-Time Service Credit for Educational Employees

This bill grants a half-time service credit to qualifying members in Plans 2 and 3 of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) and School Employees' Retirement System (SERS), who worked for an educational employer in school years prior to January 1, 1987. To qualify for this service credit a member must have:

  • Earned service credit between the effective date of this bill and before September 1, 2010;
  • Earned at least 630 hours during the school year in question;
  • Worked at least nine months of the school year in question;
  • Earned less than six months of service credit during the school year in question;

and Service credit for the school year in question has not been withdrawn. The Department will be identifying and crediting the accounts of any eligible members under this bill.

HB 1545 - Higher Education Retirement Plan

This bill allows eligible employees of the Higher Education Coordinating Board to participate in a Higher Education Retirement Plan instead of the Public Employees' Retirement System.

Signed into law by the Governor March 12, 2010. Effective June 10, 2010.

LEOFF 2 Board Proposals:

HB 1679 - Catastrophic Disability Medical Insurance

This bill allows Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System (LEOFF) Plan 2 catastrophic disability retirees and Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS) members who are totally disabled in the line of duty to have the cost of their medical insurance premiums reimbursed.

Eligible reimbursements for LEOFF Plan 2 include premiums paid by the retiree for employerprovided medical insurance, COBRA or Medicare Part A and Part B. To receive reimbursement, LEOFF Plan 2 retirees who are eligible for Medicare must enroll and maintain enrollment in Medicare Part A and Part B.

DRS will work directly with LEOFF Plan 2 catastrophically disabled retirees who are eligible for the reimbursement of medical premiums. However, DRS may need to contact employers for verification of insurance coverage. The Washington State Patrol will work directly with eligible WSPRS members.

Signed into law by the Governor March 31, 2010. Effective June 10, 2010.

HB 2519 - Duty Related Death Benefits

This bill provides additional benefits for the survivors of LEOFF Plan 2 and WSPRS Plan 2 members killed in the line of duty. The new law:

  • Removes the requirement that the member have 10 years of service before a survivor can receive a monthly pension benefit or 150% withdrawal of contributions;
  • Establishes a minimum monthly survivor benefit equal to 10% of the member’s final average salary plus 2% for each year beyond 5 years of service; and
  • Eliminates the “Joint and 100 percent survivor” reduction factor and early retirement reduction factor used in determining the survivor’s monthly benefit.

In addition, the survivors of all members of LEOFF or the WSPRS who are killed in the line of duty are entitled to:

  • An increase in the $150,000 lump-sum, line of duty death benefit to $214,000. This amount will be adjusted each year for inflation beginning July 1, 2010, and;
  • An increase to the surviving spouse’s final workers’ compensation lump sum benefit payment provided upon remarriage.

Finally, for eligible children and surviving spouses of all law enforcement officers, fire fighters or Washington State Patrol officers killed or totally disabled in the line of duty, the bill requires state universities and community colleges to waive all fees for tuition, services, and activities.

Signed into law by the Governor March 31, 2010. Effective June 10, 2010.

SB 6453 - Shared Leave For LEOFF Plan 2 Members

Allows shared leave to be treated as reportable compensation for all members of LEOFF Plan 2. Earnings can be used in the calculation of a member's benefit, and service credit will be earned according to hours reported. Currently, shared leave is reportable for state, K-12, and higher education employees, including those who are members of LEOFF Plan 2. This bill also provides that shared leave previously reported to the Department, for which contributions have been made, will remain creditable and not subject to corrected reporting.

Employers should report shared leave as regular paid service using status code A.

Signed into law by the Governor March 12, 2010. Effective June 10, 2010.

Other Bills of Interest:

HB 2196 - PERS Military Service Credit and Prior LEOFF 1 Service

Under this bill, Public Employees' Retirement System Plan 1 members who retired on or after January 1, 1998 will be eligible to use any service transferred from Plan 1 of the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System to qualify for military service credit at no cost.

Signed into law by the Governor March 31, 2010. Effective 6/10/2010.

SB 6546 - Director of Fire Protection

This bill would give a Director of Fire Protection who was previously a member of LEOFF Plan 2 the choice to continue membership in LEOFF Plan 2 while employed in this role. Otherwise, the Director of Fire Protection would be a PERS covered position.

Signed into law by the Governor March 17, 2010. Effective March 17, 2010.

Questions?

If you have any questions regarding this DRS Notice, please contact Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200, option 2, or 800-547-6657, option 6, option 2; or e-mail us.

George Pickett
Assistant Director of Administrative Services

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