PAC Report: January, 2017
Local: Members Mark Wholrab and Sister Trenouth (Arlington Fire) will start their new positions as City Council and Fire Commissioner, respectively. Good luck and thanks for stepping up.
Mike McAuley, a friend of firefighters who had put his name in to run against Doug Erikson for Senator of Washington's 42nd Legislative District has chosen to pull his name from the race. When I spoke with Mike after his decision, he said he felt he could make more of an impact as activist citizen in the district. He also said that he was not closed off to a run in the future for a like position. All campaign contributions to his campaign thus far will be returned.
In the meanwhile, Gene Knutson told me at a function that he will be running for Bellingham Mayor in a couple of years. Gene has been a strong supporter of both the department and our Local.
Progress with moving our Port members to the LEOFF 2 systems is coming along, albeit slowly…slower than I would have had it. That’s for sure. With that said, I have learned that it takes time to build a big change. I have no doubt that the end result will be land our brothers and sisters @ Bellingham International in the appropriate retirement system, LEOFF.
RFA: Brother Pethick is working his ass off to help create a plan which works for career firefighters, and our customers, too. What a challenge! Thanks a million, Dave.
Statewide: As we have for the past 30+ years, Local 106 will represent you in Olympia during this year's Legislative Conference. The members attending will speak with your elected officials, mostly from the 40th and 42nd Legislative Districts about our issues. The biggest issues we will speaking about are listed below:
- Local Public Safety Enhancement Account (LPSEA)
The WSCFF requests $25 million in funding for the Local Public Safety Enhancement Account (LPSEA) as required by ESSB 6573 of the 2008 session [2008 c 99 § 4 (4)]. The 2017-2019 budget as enacted did not contain an appropriation of the required deposit into the Local Public Safety Enhancement Account.
The Governor has included a $25 million appropriation into theLPSEA in his 2018-2019 proposed budget.
The Legislature entered into a contract with Washington’s career fire fighters when ESSB 6573 passed in 2008, and today’s legislature must honor that agreement. Legislators recognized the shortcomings of the LEOFF 2 Pension Plan––including its inability to adequately produce a pension at a member’s normal retirement age of 53––and decided to create a fund to save for necessary improvements. They also recognized a future legislature might be tempted NOT to make payments, so they made payments mandatory
- Presumptive Disease Coveragea
The WSCFF supports establishing additioanal presumptive disease coverage, recognizing new, peer reviewed evidence demonstrating firefighters are at greater risk of contracting:
• Stomach cancer
• Esophageal cancer
• Buccal and pharynx cancer
• Non-melanoma skin cancer
• Breast cancer
• Cervical cancer
Additionally, the WSCFF supports clarifying that both the cardiac illness related form of stroke and methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are considered presumptive diseases.
The WSCFF supports extending presumptive disease coverage to publicly employed fire investigators and publicly employed emergency medical technicians meeting the definition of firefighter as contained in RCW 41.26.030 (16) (h).
3. Workers Comp for PTSD
The WSCFF supports workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by:
• Providing for an exception for firefighters with PTSD from RCW 51.08.142, which excludes mental conditions or mental disabilities from stress being claimed as an occupational illness
• Adding PTSD to the firefighter prima facie presumption under RCW 51.32.185
AFG and SAFER Reauthorization Efforts Move Forward
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs by voice vote. AFG and SAFER provide billions of dollars to help local fire departments meet safe staffing, equipment and training needs. Thank you to members who reminded our representatives about the importance of these grants. The bill now goes back to the U.S. Senate for approval.
The IAFF has been working with its friends in Congress for nearly two years to reauthorize AFG and SAFER, which were due to expire on January 2, 2018. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve S. 829, legislation authorized by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) reauthorizing the programs. In addition to reauthorizing AFG and SAFER, S. 829 eliminated the onerous sunset provision, which was threatening the program’s elimination on January 2.
However, unlike the Senate bill, the bill passed by the House – H.R. 4661 – authored by Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA), includes a new sunset clause that would eliminate AFG and SAFER in seven years.
H.R. 4661 now moves on to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to swiftly approve the bill.
Your PAC team will head to DC in March to educate Congress on how to treat their Union Firefighters. More to follow:
Remember, if there is a political issue about which you feel strongly, let me know. I can swing your thoughts down to Olytown.
Colin Lowin, PAC Chair
IAFF Local 106