OLYMPIA — Under current law, getting called up for military service can mean an interruption in credit toward state retirement for law enforcement officers and firefighters, unless he or she participates in an armed conflict or earn a combat medal.
That would change under a bill unanimously approved on March 6 by the state Senate.
Senate Bill 5661 was proposed by a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy and was sponsored by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.
Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said the deputy who proposed the bill is Donald Meserve, a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
“This bill modernizes how we treat military service in state retirement systems and ensures law enforcement and firefighters receive credit toward retirement, whether or not they were deployed to a combat zone,” Rolfes said in an announcement of the bill’s Senate passage.
“I want to thank the resident who brought this bill to me. He serves as an example of someone who sees a problem and brings forth a solution to fix it for himself and many others in our military and state.”
The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
According to the bill, a member of the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Retirement System Plan 2 (aka LEOFF 2) would continue to receive credit toward retirement when on leave of absence for military service, domestic or abroad.
“A member who leaves the employ of an employer to enter the uniformed services of the United States shall be entitled to retirement system service credit for up to five years of military service,” the bill states.
The member qualifies for service credit if, within 90 days of being honorably discharged, he or she applies for reemployment with their former employer and makes the required employee contributions. However, the member can request reimbursement of contributions made while serving during a period of war.
ONLINE: View testimony on the bill, Feb. 8 before the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Introduction of SB 5661 begins at 50:30, remarks by Rolfes begins at 51:42 testimony by Meserve begins at 52:53.