Governor Inslee Signs WSCFF Backed Pension Reform Bill

On Thursday, March 24, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute House Bill 1701, providing a significant pension benefit for members of Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters LEOFF Plan 2, and making WSCFF history. Years of lobbying and relationship building resulted in the unanimous passage of this pension reform legislation. “This has been a work in progress for a long time,” said WSCFF President Dennis Lawson, “and I’m thankful to have been a part of the legislative team — Legislative Liaisons AJ Johnson and Bud Sizemore, Secretary-Treasurer Greg Markley, Vice President Dean Shelton, and Session Lobbyist Erin Johnson — that was able to get this done. This team continues to advocate for pension, collective bargaining, safety, and other issues important for our members.”

Lawson went on to say that the groundbreaking work that created the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board paved the way for this success. Until 2003, it was difficult for LEOFF Plan 2 members to get information about how their pensions were managed and operated. In 2002, the WSCFF and its law enforcement partners mounted a massive, statewide effort that resulted in the passage of Initiative 790 giving fire fighters and police officers six seats on the 11-member LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board. “We would not be here today without the strong leadership of those who came before us,” Lawson said, “Because of their work, the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board has created a model our members can be proud of, and others should emulate.”

SHB 1701 modifies the pension formula for current and future LEOFF Plan 2 members. Members who retired on or before February 1, 2021, will receive a lump sum of $100 per service credit month worked; current members have the lump sum option or an extra 0.5% pension multiplier for service years 16 to 25; and future members will have the increased pension multiplier for their 16th to 25th years of service. Many WSCFF members retire before they are eligible for federal benefits like Medicare. This improved benefit will help bridge that gap and ensure a better quality of life post-retirement.

IAFF 7th District Vice President Ricky Walsh said, “Our WSCFF brothers and sisters have been working toward this reform for more than two decades. I am very proud of their perseverance and dedication, never losing sight of this important goal for the membership.”

Following the passage of Initiative 790, with better access to pension-related operations, WSCFF leaders looked for ways to improve retiree benefits and have passed more than 25 incremental improvements prior to the 2022 Legislative Session. 

In 2008, WSCFF leaders successfully lobbied for the passage of legislation that created a benefit improvement account for LEOFF 2 members. The legislation called for money to be deposited in the account from the state’s general fund when state revenues exceeded the previous fiscal biennium revenue by more than five percent. 

The LEOFF 2 retirement fund was performing so well that it was more than 100% funded in 2019. The WSCFF successfully lobbied for the passage of legislation that authorized the state treasurer to transfer $300 million from the LEOFF 2 retirement fund into the benefit improvements account.

As a result of the transfer, the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board had the opportunity to establish a larger benefit for the members. This–and the tireless effort of the WSCFF Legislative Team–ultimately led to the drafting and passage of SBH 1701.

Update: Benefit Improvement FAQs Available

Department of Retirement Systems and the LEOFF 2 Board staff has developed a list of FAQs for your review. Below are tables breaking down which groups of LEOFF Plan 2 members qualify for the lump sum benefit improvement, tiered multiplier benefit improvement, choice between lump sum benefit or tiered multiplier benefit, or no benefit improvement. This list does not specify all potential situations. DRS will keep their Benefit Improvement Page updated as the latest information on implementation becomes available.

RETIRED AS OF 2/1/21

LEOFF 2 Member GroupBenefit Improvement
Retired as of 2/1/21Lump sum
Duty or catastrophic disability retired as of 2/1/21Lump sum (minimum of $20k)
Beneficiary of line-of-duty death who died prior to 2/1/21Lump sum (minimum of $20k)
Survivor beneficiary, member deceased as of 2/1/21Lump sum 
Member deceased as of 2/1/2021 with no survivor beneficiaryNo benefit
WithdrawnNo benefit

  LEOFF 2 Member Active as of 2/1/21

LEOFF 2 Member GroupBenefit Improvement
Still activeChoice of lump sum or tiered multiplier
Now retiredChoice of lump sum or tiered multiplier
Duty or catastrophic disability retirementChoice of lump sum (minimum of $20k) or tiered multiplier
Beneficiary of line-of-duty death who was active as of 2/1/21Choice of lump sum (minimum of $20k) or tiered multiplier
Survivor beneficiary, member deceased after 2/1/21Choice of lump sum or tiered multiplier
Survivor beneficiary in service death not line-of-dutyChoice of lump sum or tiered multiplier
No survivor beneficiary, member deceased after 2/1/21 before effective date of the billLump sum to beneficiary or estate
No survivor beneficiary in service death not line-of-dutyLump sum to beneficiary or estate
WithdrawnNo benefit
Inactive as of 2/1/21 and vestedChoice of lump sum or tiered multiplier
Inactive and not vestedNo benefit
Inactive and not vested as of 2/1/21, returns to LEOFF employment after 2/1/21 and becomes vestedChoice of lump sum or tiered multiplier

    NEW MEMBER AFTER 2/1/21

LEOFF 2 Member GroupBenefit Improvement
New members after 2/1/21Tiered Multiplier
WithdrawnNo benefit