OLYMPIA — A bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, clarifying some provisions under which EMTs qualify for the state pension system, and potentially saving public hospital districts substantial costs, was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday.
The bill, HB 2202, “will narrow the definition of new EMT employees eligible for the (state’s retirement system) plan 2 and modifies the rules surrounding the purchase of service credit to help contain costs for the public hospital districts,” according to a Manweller press release.
Changes made to the system in 2005 allowed EMTs to join the state pension system, which covers both law enforcement officers and firefighters (known as LEOFF). The Washington Department of Retirement Systems determined there were EMTs employed by public hospital districts who were eligible for the plan, and had been eligible since 2005, but had not enrolled.
Some public hospital districts challenged the ruling because “they could potentially be on the hook for past, present and future costs associated with the EMTs being part of the LEOFF system,” the press release said.
“The legislation will narrow the definition of new EMT employees eligible for the LEOFF retirement system and modifies rules surrounding the purchase of service credit to help contain costs for the public hospital districts.”
“It is not uncommon for the Legislature to adopt changes to retirement plans. In this case, it was an oversight on eligibility requirements, but it could have been very expensive for public hospital districts,” Manweller said.
“We had to find a fix for the law that addressed costs and a new definition for employees to fit into this pension system. We were able to work with stakeholder groups and reach an agreement that will save public hospital districts, including some in the 13th District, a large amount of money.”