State Workers

Some bills are of special interest to specific agencies

As we continue our review of bills currently before the legislature, we will find that some of the bills being proposed will have an effect on all agencies, whereas there are several that have an effect on one or just a few agencies, like those below.

* House Bill 1319, protection for those working at correctional agencies: This bill would provide protection for employees, contract staff and volunteers of a correctional agency from stalkers. This would include the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Social and Health Services.

* Status: The first reading in the Senate was Feb. 22 and it has been referred to Human Services and Corrections.

* Senate Bill 5518, Department of Retirement Systems: When the agency was first created in 1976, DRS by statute was mandated to have two divisions and two assistant directors. In 1993, the Legislature raised this to four divisions. However, the agency has always been limited to two assistant directors. This bill would allow the Department of Retirement Systems to have the number of divisions and assistant directors that it needs to effectively run the department, by removing the limitations on divisions and assistant directors.

* Status: On Feb. 9 it was referred to the Rules Committee for a second reading.

A bill that will be of great interest to many employees that have been members of more than one retirement plan is Senate Bill 5146. If this bill is of interest to you, be sure to read the entire bill, as it has more significant information about the calculations for retirement under this bill.

* SB 5176, portability of retirement plans: This bill would allow members of retirement plans that are eligible for dual membership to combine service credit earned in all eligible systems for the purpose of determining eligibility for retirement and for other benefits. Retirement plans that are eligible for dual membership include the following plans: the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) Plans 1, 2, and 3; the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) Plans 1, 2, and 3; the School Employees' Retirement System (SERS) Plans 1, 2, and 3; the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters' Retirement System (LEOFF) Plan 2; the Washington State Patrol Retirement Systems (WSPRS) Plans 1 and 2; the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS); the Statewide City Employees' Retirement System (SCERS); and the retirement systems of the cities of Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. LEOFF Plan 1. The Legislature has reserved the right to amend or repeal the portability statutes.

* Status: On Feb. 1 it was passed to the Rules Committee for a second reading.

To keep you informed on the progress of bills that we have been following, below are some bills that have made it out of committee:

* HB 1168: Family Medical Leave Insurance Program

* HB 1507: Uniformed Service Shared Leave Pool

* HB 1599: State Raffles.

* HB 1759: Shared Leave for Emergencies

* HB 5118: Sexual Harassment policies and training

* SB 5123: Prohibiting discrimination of veterans

* Substitute Senate Bill 5869: Monitors personal information in agencies.

Some important cutoff dates for bills are coming up soon. Wednesday is the last day to consider bills in the house of origin and March 30 is the committee cutoff for the opposite house.

My next column will take a break from bills to catch up with other items of interest in state government.

Tina VanderWal is a human-resources specialist with the state and a columnist for The Olympian. She can be reached at tinav@wildblue.net.

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