1st 2016 Legislative Issue – SB5873

My purpose for this email is to bring to your attention the legislative status of
SB5873 and my participation in it’s process as a stakeholder. As you are probably aware, my husband, Dennis was a KCSO retiree who passed away in 2009. After he died, I learned he could have named me as a beneficiary, but we were not aware of this because we did not get the letter from DRS advising of the new bill giving me eligibility. I believe some folks think we were out sailing somewhere, which is incorrect. We were living on our boat in Portsmouth as official residents of Virginia. We were employed, had an address, driver’s licenses, carry permits and we voted and paid taxes. Had we received that letter, Dennis certainly would have named me as his beneficiary. He tried to do so a few years earlier, but was denied because his ex-wife was receiving a portion of his retirement benefits.
As you know SB5873 was introduced and amended in the 2015 legislative session. It passed unanimously in the Senate but died in the House. I believe part of the reason for that was the perception that the bill has a fiscal cost. It does not. We tried to overcome that misinformation but time was running out and the budget was, of course, the priority. This fall I attended all the Select Committee on Pension Policy meetings in Olympia and testified at their hearing on the bill in December. I’m happy to report they endorsed the bill unanimously. So now it is in the Senate Rules Committee, and I understand it can be sent to the House Appropriations Committee without going through the full process again. Hopefully that will happen soon. Once it is in Appropriations, we will need a lot of support to get them to give it a hearing and to pass it. I’m hoping some WSRDSPOA members will attend, and of course letters and emails will be needed too. When I testified at the Senate Ways and Means hearing last year, I was really surprised and disappointed to see a very small show of support. If I remember correctly, the only ones to testify were three members of the LEOFF1 Coalition, Dick Warbrouck, President of Retired Firefighters of Washington and myself.   There was one Kent Police Department retiree and his wife in the audience. That’s pretty sad when this impacts people’s lives so profoundly.
I’d appreciate it if you’d pass this information on. I think a little reminder that we have work to do will help. Thank you.
Sonja Ericson-Russell


Sonja needs our help with this bill.  I will try to keep you informed in a timely manner, but remember that sometimes things move very fast in the Legislature.  So when requested to respond, don’t put it off until tomorrow.  Please respond as soon as you can.
Don McCabe
Eastside VP