Legislative Issues

representatives-legislation

Local leaders from Tukwila, Tumwater and Kent prepare to meet with senators and representatives in Olympia.

WSCFF leaders from Tukwila, Tacoma and Kent prepare to meet with senators and representatives on issues critical to fire fighters.

The mission of the WSCFF is to provide our members–Washington professional, union fire fighters–the best possible working conditions and the safest possible working environment, along with fair compensation and benefits. We are active on all fronts, from local issues to national ones.  Statewide issues that affect our members are our primary concern.  Politically active since our inception in 1939, our efforts have been focused on legislative action on behalf of our members.

The WSCFF employs two active-duty fire fighters, Geoff Simpson and Michael White, as part-time legislative liaisons; together with the President, Vice President and Secretary Treasurer they serve as the Legislative Team.   When fire fighter issues arise, the WSCFF Legislative Team is the source for answers.

2017 Legislative Issues

The 2017 Regular Legislative Session concluded on Sunday, April 23.  With the legislature failing to approve an operating budget, Governor Jay Inslee called lawmakers back for a 30-day special session to finish work on the two year state budget that must satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding.  As of June 14, the legislature has begun a third special session to complete this work.

During the regular session, the WSCFF helped to introduce and support bills related to the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ (LEOFF 2) pension plan, presumptive disease coverage, and local government issues including reimbursement for non-urgent medical services.  Five of these bills have been passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Inslee.

E2SHB 1358 Treat and Refer

Currently, fire departments may only seek reimbursement for services provided that conclude with transportation to the Emergency Department. Many fire departments within Washington State have created FDCARES, community paramedicine, or mobile integrated health programs to provide services to residents who need help with non-urgent health issues.

These services result in a documented reduction in non-urgent calls for help. They also improve the health of community members by treating people in their homes, providing them transportation to clinics, coordinating their care with other providers, and connecting them with other less costly resources.

By creating a treat-and-refer funding mechanism, these programs can expand and multiply into more communities, produce more savings by preventing unnecessary transport to, and treatment by, emergency departments, and keep our emergency vehicles and crews available for emergencies instead of responding to non-urgent calls for aid.

SHB1467 Removing Disincentives to Facilitate Regionalization

A fire benefit charge (FBC) is a user fee for fire protection based upon risk and need for service.  An FBC must be approved by the voters for up to a six-year period.  Renewing an FBC in a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) requires 60% voter approval, but only requires 50% in FPDs.  Reducing the 60% renewal requirement in RFAs removes the built-in disincentive for FPDs to join RFAs.  Affordable housing, which is exempt from taxation, will be exempt from FBCs as long as the housing provider works in good faith with the fire department to resolve issues surrounding excessive calls for service.

SHB1863 Fire Incident Reporting

Requires the chief of the Washington state patrol, through the director of fire protection, to administer the national fire incident reporting system including purchasing equipment, establishing procedures, standards, and guidelines, providing training and education, and employing staff.

SHB2202 EMTs/LEOFF 2 Membership

Addresses the eligibility of emergency medical technicians for membership in the Law Enforcement Officers’ and firefighters’ retirement (LEOFF) plan 2.

ESSB 5628 Fire District Formation

Provides for fire protection district formation by the legislative authority of a city or town subject to voter approval.