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RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – 3-4-2022

RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – 3-4-2022

In This Edition

  • SB 5676 – Plan 1 COLA Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature
  • Governor Inslee to Lift Mask Mandate March 12
  • Legislative Bill Summary

SB 5676 – Plan 1 COLA Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature 

On Wednesday, March 2nd, the House passed SB 5676, a 3% cost of living increase (with a $110/month cap) to PERS/TRS Plan 1 retirees. The bill will be delivered to the Governor for signature.

SB 5676 represents only the third increase Plan 1 retirees will have seen since 2011 when the Uniform COLA was taken away. The success in getting this bill passed was a multiyear effort that included the successful efforts in 2018 with a one-time 1.5% increase (capped at $62.50 per month) and in 2020 with a one-time 3% increase (capped at $62.50 per month).

There remains much work to be done to secure Plan 1 retirees a permanent on-going COLA like all other retirement plans enjoy, but this increase will help retirees in the near term. Our Legislative Committee will be discussing plans for the next steps in the effort to address the issue and during this interim period, we will be meeting with key Legislative allies to discuss possible future legislation.

Plan 1 Retirees will see the increase beginning with their pension payment deposited at the end of July. The increased pension payment amount will be their new monthly pension payment going forward.

In the meantime, retirees should feel a sense of accomplishment in the fact that their efforts to pressure lawmakers to pass SB 5676 this year were successful. Appreciation should go out to the legislators who supported and sponsored both COLA bills (HB 1721 & SB 5676). RPEC members can do their part by reaching out to their individual Legislators to thank them for their support and efforts in getting this passed.

Other bills that have passed this session:

  • HB 1669 – Concerning disability benefits in the public safety employees’ retirement system.
  • HB 1688 – Protecting consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services, by aligning state law and the federal no surprises act and addressing coverage of treatment for emergency conditions.
  • SB 5508 – Concerning the insurance guaranty fund.
  • SB 5532 – Establishing a prescription drug affordability board.
  • SB 5546 – Concerning insulin affordability.
  • SB 5610 – Requiring cost sharing for prescription drugs to be counted against an enrollee’s obligation, regardless of source.

Governor Inslee to Lift Mask Mandate March 12

From the Governor’s website:

With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the west, California, Oregon and Washington are moving together to update their masking guidance. After 11:59 p.m. on March 11, California, Oregon and Washington will be adopting new indoor mask policies and move from mask requirements to mask recommendations in schools.

State policies do not change federal requirements, which still include masks on public transit.

“We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.”

In Washington, indoor mask requirements will be lifted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.”

Legislative Bill Summary

Below is a link to the bills we are tracking as they move through the legislative process. Full Text and updates on these bills can be found by searching for the bill number at: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/

Please visit https://rpecwa.org/2022-legislative-bill-summary/ for a list of bills currently of focus to RPEC. 

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