To: WSEMA Legislative Committee
From: Dylan Doty & Gordon Walgren, Lobbyists
Date: April 9, 2012
Re: Legislative Update
Special Session Overview
The Legislature is nearing the end of the first special session. The State Constitution limits a
special session to 30 days, and the deadline for the current special session is Tuesday, April 10.
Negotiations on the supplemental operating budget are still the most significant issue, with
Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats still unable to come to terms on a mutually-agreed
upon proposal that could pass the more heavily-Democratic House. Most parties expect a second
special session will be required to conclude budget negotiations, and that such a special session
may not be called until the next state revenue forecast in June.
The sticking points are the three reforms that the Republican-led coalition in the Senate wants
passed. These include a pension proposal that repeals early retirement incentives for new state
employees after July 1, a proposal to require all employees of K-12 school systems to contribute
to their health plans, and a proposal to require the state to pass four-year balanced budgets rather
than two-year budgets. Each of these proposals is likely to be met with opposition in the House,
thus creating a stalemate that has yet to be resolved. Until getting their way, Senate Republicans
are refusing to vote on the budget or on a $1 billion construction budget (the Capital Budget) that
is projected to create more than 20,000 jobs across the state in the coming construction season.
The House and Senate each have their own budget proposals, which will need to be reconciled
prior to the end of the special session. If they are not reconciled, a second special session will be
needed. The House passed its version of the budget on a partisan vote last week. The Senate has
yet to act on a proposal this special session.
2ESHB 2127 – House Budget – Provisions of Interest
Disaster Recovery – Provides expenditure authority for the disaster recovery projects of state
agencies and local jurisdictions, including repairs to damage incurred in the January 2012 storm.
Allows the Military Department to expend Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA)
grants and to use existing funds to fulfill FEMA match requirements for these grants.
Next Generation 911 Equipment – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has
encouraged local governments to accelerate Next Generation 911 (NG911) system adoption. The
NG911 system will update 911 system architecture so that calls may be accepted from a wider
variety of media. Expenditure authority is provided so that the Military Department may
reimburse local governments for the purchase of NG911 equipment.
Pension Reform – The current proposal does NOT include the proposed LEOFF Plan 1 and 2
Senate Budget – Provisions of Interest
Next Generation 911 Equipment - Additional expenditure authority is provided to allow the
Department to reimburse counties for the purchase of Next Generation 911 capable equipment
for use in their Public Safety Answering Points.
Authorizes the use of $500,000 of the $8,000,000 allocated for fire service mobilization to be
used for mobilization to “all risk disasters, other than fires.”
State pensions – Funding is reduced to reflect lower employer contribution rates in the Public
Employees', Teachers', and School Employees' Retirement Systems (PERS, TRS, and SERS) as
a result of the suspension of Plan 1 unfunded liability payments for FY 2013, the elimination of
reduced early retirement penalties for new members of the plans, and the closure of the Plans 2
to new members after June 30, 2012, pursuant to Senate Bill 6378 (reforming state retirement
LEOFF Pensions - Funding is adjusted to reflect reduced state contributions to the Law
Enforcement Officers' and Firefighters' Retirement System Plan 2 (LEOFF 2). Contribution
rates are revised for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium to reflect the use of contribution
rates floors calculated using same method used for the statutory alternative minimum rates for
the other state retirement plans. The rates are equivalent to 80 percent of the normal cost for
LEOFF 2 under the Entry Age Normal actuarial cost method. According to the June 30, 2010
actuarial valuation report, these minimum contribution rates exceed the rates required under the
plan's underlying Aggregate actuarial cost method. The following rates, which do not include the
Department of Retirement Systems' administrative fee, are effective beginning February 1, 2012:
for members, 6.53 percent of pay; for employers, 3.92 percent of pay; and for the state, 2.61
percent of pay.
Bills of Interest
HB 2822 – Concerning local sales and use tax account deposits and distributions.
Beginning January 1, 2013, DOR is required to make deposits in the local sales and use
tax account on a monthly basis on the last business day of the month in which
distributions are made. The State Treasurer must also transfer an amount equal to any
foregone interest from the state General Fund to the Local Sales and Use Tax Account
and must also distribute that to impacted entities (counties, cities, transportation
authorities, public facilities districts, public transportation benefit areas, regional
transportation investment districts, and transportation benefit districts).
*This bill passed the House 82-15 on April 15, and is now awaits action in the
HB 2748 & SB 6536 – Concerning ferry and flood control zone districts. Authorizes
counties with a population of 1.5 million or more to assume all powers and obligations of
a flood control zone district, and subsequently abolish the flood control zone district.
Authorizes counties with a population of 1.5 million or more to assume all powers and
obligations of a county ferry district, and subsequently abolish the county ferry district.
*HB 2748 passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee,
having passed the Senate Government Operations Committee. It failed to move
prior to the March 2nd deadline.
HB 2721 & SB 6535 – Flood control zone districts. Clarifying provisions establishing
subzones in countywide flood control zone districts.
*Neither bill passed.
SB 6430 – Aerial search and rescue. Transferring aerial search and rescue activities from
the aviation division of the department of transportation to the state military department.
*This bill failed to move this year.
HB 2625 & SB 6363 – Fire service mobilization. Addressing the mobilization of “all
risk resources” during an emergency. In response to an informal opinion from the
Attorney General’s office, which stated that fire service mobilization was limited to
wildland fires response, the fire service has sought to clarify that fire service response
must be allowed for all hazards to which fire service typically responds, including floods,
earthquakes, pandemics, rescues, and the like.
*These bills received hearings but failed to move out of their houses of origin. A
budget proviso has been included in both the Senate Democratic and Senate
Republican budget proposals, however, which would allocate $500,000 of the $8
million state fire service mobilization for all risk hazards. Parties have agreed to
work on a more permanent solution next year.
HB 2636 – Authorizing the use of digital outdoor advertising signs to expand the state's
emergency messaging capabilities.
*This bill did not receive a hearing.
SB 6179 – Military & safety equipment. Outlaws the manufacture, sale, disposal, or
possession of a switchblade knife, except by a law enforcement officer, firefighter or
rescue member, Washington state patrol officer, or active military member while on
*This bill failed to move this year.
SB 6186 – Emergency medical services. Addresses limitations on the taxing authority of
counties for emergency medical services.
*Passed out of committee, but failed to move out of the Senate.
HB 2280 – Motor vehicle yellow dot program. Requires the director of the department of
licensing to implement a voluntary yellow dot program to assist owners and lessees of
motor vehicles and their passengers, emergency medical responders, and law
enforcement personnel in the event of a motor vehicle accident, a medical emergency, or
any other interaction involving emergency medical responders or law enforcement
*Passed the House but failed to move in the Senate.
HB 2178 & SB 6024 – Revising the definition of "political subdivision" to include a
water-sewer district for purposes of the intrastate mutual aid system.
*These bills have not moved and are dead this session.
SB 6015 – Oil spills. Requires the department of ecology to submit a report to the
appropriate standing committees of the legislature regarding oil spills and the state's oil
*This bill did not receive a hearing this session.
HB 2188 & SB 6021 – Air rescue and evacuation. States that a subscription service that
provides rescue, evacuation, emergency transport, and crisis management and consulting
services related to an emergency is not an insurer as defined by statute. If applicable, the
subscription service must either fulfill the licensing requirements within the jurisdiction
in which services are rendered or contract with a service provider that has satisfied such
licensure requirements. A service provider must satisfy the statutory private air
ambulance licensure and accreditation requirements prior to providing air ambulance
services within the state. A subscription service is not required to own the means of
transportation used to provide such services.
*HB 2188 passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the
Governor. It takes effect June 7, 2012.
HB 2728 & SB 6521 – Local government revenue. Removes the voter-approved
requirement for the county and city public safety sales and use tax. Modifies the
authority for counties and cities imposing sales and use taxes. Allows transportation
benefit districts to increase certain vehicle fees. Authorizes counties to impose an excise
tax on the privilege of engaging in business as a utility. Allows local governments to
collect certain fees to cover the cost of proportionate staffing, administrative, and facility
costs associated with the processing of applications. Provides options for making
payments of any kind to cities and code cities. Revises the definition of "limit factor," for
purposes of chapter 84.55 RCW (limitations upon regular property taxes), to include, for
taxing districts other than the state, the greater of one hundred one percent or one hundred
percent plus inflation.
*These bills failed to move this session.