Legislative History

The Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs has been in operation since 1962. In its 60 years of operation, WACOPS has been involved in numerous legislative efforts to defeat bills that would take away pension benefits and to support bills that would improve pension benefits for law enforcement officers in the State of Washington. 

In the early years of the Council, the Council represented law enforcement in the ten First Class cities. Overtime the Council membership increased to where we have over one hundred member organizations in the Council.  Each organization that belongs to the Council has the political ability to influence votes in the Legislature on issues critical to our membership. 

Early legislative efforts dealt with improving the benefits for members covered under RCW 41.20, forerunners to the LEOFF 1 system.  Some of the many successful efforts to improve the 41.20 system dealt with on-duty disability pension benefits, survivor’s benefits, increasing the retirement amount on 25 years of service, defining rank in civil service law, sick benefits, and many others including:

  • Passed legislation to decrease the LEOFF 2 Plan retirement age from 58 to 55 (1993), and from 55 to 53 (2004).
  • Passed legislation providing LEO protections from adverse employment actions based solely on being placed on a Brady List (2018).
  • Passed legislation to provide presumptive illness L&I protections for PTSD that occurs after 10 years of service and allows a claim for PTSD caused by multiple traumatic events (2018).
  • Passed legislation that creates an occupational disease presumption for heart problems and infectious diseases for law enforcement officers (2019).
  • Passed legislation that created the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board and the ongoing placement of three LEO representatives to secure rate stabilization (2007).
  • Passed legislation that created the Benefit Improvement Account (BIA) (2008), laying the groundwork for potential improvements. Another granted LEOFF 2 BIA Funding by transferring $300 million from the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Fund to the BIA (2019)
  • In 2022, through the passage of SHB 1701 - Concerning law enforcement officers' and firefighters' retirement system benefits, the vision of improved benefits for both active and retired LEOFF 2 members was realized!  Both the legislative bodies (House and Senate) unanimously passed the measure after a coordinated effort between WACOPS and the WSCFF.

WACOPS Accomplishments by Year

2022 Legislative Session

LEOFF 2 Benefit Improvement

WACOPS leadership began a journey many years ago to have more influence over your pension fund and to improve your retirement benefits.  As some of you recall, Initiative 790 was passed in November 2002 that established the Washington State Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Plan 2 Retirement Board LEOFF Plan 2 Board.  This was the beginning of the execution of the vision. Since that time WACOPS and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters (WSCFF) have worked diligently to improve your pension benefits.

  • In 2008, advocacy by both groups resulted in the formation of a LEOFF 2 Benefit Improvement Account. 
  • In 2019, WACOPS and WSCFF were able to gain agreement of the legislature to make a one-time transfer of $300 million from the LEOFF 2 retirement fund to the LEOFF 2 Benefit Improvement Account. 
  • In 2022, through the passage of SHB 1701 - Concerning law enforcement officers' and firefighters' retirement system benefits, the vision of improved benefits for both active and retired LEOFF 2 members was realized!  Both the legislative bodies (House and Senate) unanimously passed the measure after a coordinated effort between WACOPS and the WSCFF. Depending upon an individual’s circumstance, the benefit improvement will be a lump sum or an increase to your future pension using a tier multiplier increase.  

WACOPS Supported Bills that Passed
HB1669 PSERS Disability Benefits
SHB 1701 LEOFF Benefits
HB 1719 Military Equipment/LE
EHB 1752 Deferred Comp/Roth
SSB 5564 Employee Assistance Programs
SSB 5644 Behavioral Health Co-Response

WACOPS Opposed Bills that were Defeated
2SHB 1202 Police misconduct/civil remedy
HB 1507 Independent prosecution
SB 5677 Law enforcement serious misconduct

2021 Legislative Session

Use of Force incidents nationwide and within the borders of Washington culminated in a supported, organized, and urgent effort aimed at law enforcement reform. WACOPS engaged with legislators immediately following the 2020 session and throughout the interim discussing, reviewing, and providing suggested changes to the many ideas that culminated in the nearly 20 bills introduced in the 2021 session. 

WACOPS Supported Bills that Passed
E2SSB 5259 Uniformly collect use of force data.
SHB 1088 Allow for the removal of an officer from a brady list.
E2SHB 1089 Independent audits of use of force investigation processes. Concerning compliance audits of requirements relating to peace officers and law enforcement agencies.
HB 1001 Establishing a law enforcement professional development outreach grant program.
ESSB 5353 Creating a partnership model that facilitates community engagement with law enforcement.
E2SHB 1477 Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services.

WACOPS Opposed Bills that were Defeated
SHB 1203 Require community oversight boards of law enforcement departments.
2SHB 1202 A proposal to allow for easier civil action against officers and agencies. Addressing meaningful civil remedies for persons injured as a result of police misconduct, including by allowing for an award of attorney fees in addition to damages and injunctive and declaratory relief.
HB 1507 Create an office of independent prosecutions within the Attorney General’s office.

Other significant legislation that WACOPS was in opposition to, but passed, included a ban on the use of chokeholds and other controversial law enforcement tactics (ESHB 1054), a statewide requirement that law enforcement intervene (SSB 5066) if they witness another officer using excessive force, and a higher bar for when law enforcement can resort to deadly force (E2SHB 1310). Other bills would establish a new state office to independently investigate (ESHB 1267) when law enforcement is involved in a deadly use of force incident and make it easier for the state to decertify an officer (E2SSB 5051) for misconduct.  Another bill changes the methods for selecting an arbitrator for labor disputes (SSB 5055) involving law enforcement disciplinary matters (WACOPS Neutral Position).

2020 Legislative Session

SB 6570 – Concerning law enforcement officer mental health and wellness. Establishes a Law Enforcement Officer Health and Wellness Task Force to be convened by the Department of Health.
Note: On April 1, 2020, Governor Inslee vetoed several sections of the budget and associated policy bills to reduce the 2020 supplemental operating budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Section 3 of this bill, which provided $300,000 to establish three pilot projects to support behavioral health and other improvement efforts for law enforcement officers, was removed. Governor’s veto message:  "With the rapidly changing environment related to the state's response to COVID-19 and the new economic realities the state faces, I made the difficult choice to veto the funding provided to support this pilot project.”
HB 2926 – Expanding Access to critical incident stress management programs. Requires the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to inventory critical incident stress management programs available to law enforcement agencies statewide. Requires CJTC to coordinate with others to expand access to critical incident stress management programs.
2SSB 5149 - Monitoring with victim notification technology.
SB 6417 - Allowing retirees to change their survivor option election after retirement.
SHB 2544 - Concerning the definition of veteran.
SSB 6499 - Concerning the confidentiality of retirement system files and records relating to health information. 
E2SSB 5481 - Concerning collective bargaining by Fish and Wildlife officers. 

2019 Legislative Session

SHB 1064 – Alterations to Initiative I-940 Use of Force and Training o Modifies Initiative 940, including provisions relating to training, the criminal liability standard for use of deadly force, independent investigations of deadly force incidents, and rendering of first aid. Requires the state to reimburse a peace officer for reasonable defense costs when he or she is found not guilty or charges are dismissed in certain circumstances.
HB 1909 – PTSD Privacy Protections o Requires the Department of Labor and Industries to notify employers and workers upon the allowance of a claim of their rights and responsibilities under this act. Subjects an employer to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each occurrence where the employer or employer’s authorized representative reveals information in an injured worker’s claim file regarding a mental health condition or treatment to any person other than an authorized representative. 
HB 1913 – Identifying Presumed Conditions for LE and Fire Fighters Creates an occupational disease presumption for heart problems and infectious diseases for law enforcement officers. Requires the director of the Department Labor and Industries to create an advisory committee on occupational disease presumptions, made up of specified scientist.
HB 2144 – LEOFF 2 Benefit Improvement Funding o Transfers $300 million from the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’  Plan 2 Retirement Fund to the Benefit Enhancement Account. o Eliminates biennial transfers from State General Fund Transfer Local Public Safety Enhancement Account.

2018 Legislative Session

SB3003 which was a compromise intended to keep I-940 off of the ballot. This legislation has been challenged legally and has been heard by the Supreme Court.
SB6188 provides LEO protections from adverse employment actions based solely on being placed on a Brady list. This effort took many years!
SB6214 provides presumptive illness L&I protections for PTSC that occurs after 10 years of service and allows a claim for PTSC caused by multiple traumatic events.
For the third year in a row, we were able to secure a veto from the Governor on language that would have changed the funding source for future payments into the BIA.

2017 Legislative Session

HB1501 provides notice to law enforcement when persons have attempted to illegally purchase firearms.
The State budget included full funding of LEOFF Plan 2 with the adoption of contribution rates from the LEOFF Board. The Legislature failed to fund the Benefit Improvement Account (BIA) funding source for future payments into the BIA.
Multiple bills on “Right to Work”, requiring negotiations in open public meetings, and further attacks on collective bargaining.
Multiple bills that reduced officer protections in use of deadly force encounters. WACOPS south to negotiate a reasonable alternative to the hardline proposals but other LEO based groups would not consider negotiated settlement for the legislature to consider.

2016 Legislative Session

SB6459 to allow LEO’s greater latitude when encountering persons under DOC supervision.
HB2362 to create a Task Force regarding body worn cameras.
SB6263 & SB6264 LEOFF 2 Board bills that protect officers that are deployed to emergencies and clarify LEOFF annuity options
Multiple bills to modify the deadly force statute. Ultimately, a Task Force was formed and WACOPS served on the task force.
SB6668 and budget language that attempted to merge underfunded TRS-1 pension system with LEOFF plan1.

2015 Legislative Session

First payment into the LEOFF 2 Benefits Improvement account. This deposit was made using LEOFF 2 reserves. This deposit was made inconsistent with the statute but met the State's mandate.
Funding for the Internet Crimes Against Children task force
Increased funding for the CJTC
Attempt to increase LEOFF retirement age from 53 to 55.
Public disclosure of public sector unions’ finances
Restricting body camera footage to officer discipline only

2014 Legislative Session

Creating an optional annuity for LEOFF 2 members.
Modifying arrest without a warrant provisions and enhancing warrant issuance processes.
Exempting employee ID’s from records requests
Attempts to negate police officer arbitration rights
Reducing retirement calculation rates
Creating a defined contribution retirement system
Requiring public employee collective bargaining negotiations to be open meetings.

2013 Legislative Session

Death benefits for reserve officers and health insurance for LEOFF catastrophically disabled.
Creating a registry, accessible only to law enforcement, for felony firearm offenders.
Allowing the storage and transportation of flash bang devices
Created the CJTC firing range account and retained funding for CJTC.
Exempting confidential licenses and plates from public disclosure
Creating defined contribution state retirement plans.
Eliminating the use of overtime when calculating pension benefits.
Creating a new appeal process form LEOFF 1 disability board decisions.
Legislation that would have eliminated the due process and adequate checks and balances on managerial authority in the dismissal of law enforcement officers.

2012 Legislative Session

Implementing the Blue Alert system
Exempting police K-9’s from strict liability and increasing penalties for harming or killing a police dog.
Allowing fish and Wildlife enforcement officers to transfer service credit in 2012.
Authorizing facial recognition matching to deter criminals from acquiring multiple identities
Cuts to the LEOFF 2 contribution rates which would have underfunded the plan by $90 million.
Requiring local governments to reimburse 50% - 100% of the costs for training at CJTC
Cuts to DOC that would have reduced CCO’s and the community supervision program and granted early release to offenders.
Mandatory drug testing
Eliminating the use of overtime when calculating pension benefits.

Legislation that provides that LEOFF pensions will not be reduced be compensation foregone by reduced work hours, mandatory leave without pay, temporary layoffs, or reduction to current pay.
Exempting legally registered and possessed firearm suppressors from criminal classification
Increasing the penalty for harassing criminal justice participants.
Cuts to the LEOFF 2 contribution rates which would have underfunded the plan by $75 million.
Legislation that would have weakened binding interest arbitration
Legalizing marijuana
State mandated inquests into officer shootings
Legislation that placed the Lakewood Law Enforcement Memorial Act constitutional amendment on the general election ballot.
Legislation that increased LEOFF Plan 2 Survivor Benefits
Legislation that covers medical insurance costs for LEOFF 2 members totally disabled in the line of duty.
Criminal Justice reforms including increasing penalties for rendering criminal assistance, addressing bail for felony offenses, modifying sex offender registration provisions, improving procedures relating to the commitment of persons found not guilty by reason of insanity, changing disappearance notice requirements for mentally ill patients, and requesting modifications to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision.
Workplace issues including protecting the privacy of criminal justice employees by increasing exemptions under the Public Records Act and simplifying the procedures for issuing firearms qualification certificates to retired law enforcement officers and law enforcement conduct.
Assault weapon ban
Legalization of marijuana
Legislation amending LEOFF 2 to provide interruptive military service credit, military service death benefits, duty disability conversion, Fish & Wildlife enforcement officer service credit transfer, and domestic partner benefits.
Legislative efforts to lower LEOFF 2 contribution rates and change actuarial assumptions for the pension plan. These proposals would have caused a large reduction of assets in the LEOFF Plan 2 fund and increased member contribution rates in future biennia without adding benefit enhancements.
Legislation that would have required mandatory drug testing of peace officers.
Secured a dedicated state revenue stream to bring revenues to LEOFF Plan 2 and local jurisdictions for public safety on a biennial basis.
Legislation that permits members of LEOFF 2 to purchase up to 24 months of service credit for periods of temporary duty-related disability
Legislation that affects how contribution rates are set, dual membership in state-administered pension plans, and LEOFF 2 board membership.
Legislation amending LEOFF Plan 2 including Catastrophic Disabilities,
Survivor Health Insurance, and the $150,000 Death Benefit bill,
Legislation that removed the 60% LEOFF 1 Benefit Cap
Budget proviso funding for the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
Legislation enhancing LEOFF Plan 2 benefits including a new duty disability bill, the employment bill, the LEOFF 2 military service credit bill, and the purchase of service credit and annuity.
Legislation regarding police officer vehicle license information.
Legislation that corrected a LEOFF 1 disability board issue.
Legislation that created the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation (WLSEMF) license plate and allowed the sale of WSLEMF license plates to fund the memorial.
Legislation that enhanced the LEOFF 2 retirement system by the extension of benefits to certain disabled members and revised the calculation of retirement allowances for those killed in the course of employment.
Legislation that implemented language from Initiative 790, creation of the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement Board
Legislation that gave Fish and Wildlife Officers general authority.
Legislation restricting violent video games and prohibiting retailers from selling or renting “M” rated games to children under the age of 17.
Legislative efforts to remove LEOFF 1 surplus from the fund.
Legislation that created a job share bill for police officers.
Legislation dealing with school bullying.
Legislation correcting language in the LEOFF 2 retirement statute dealing with actuarial reductions. 
Legislation that retained money in the Capital Budget for the law enforcement memorial.
Legislation that lowered the actuarial penalty from 8% to 3% per year for all public retirement systems and reduced the retirement age for LEOFF 2 members from age 55 to age 53. 
Legislation that eliminated the 6% contribution rate for LEOFF 1 employees and employers.
LEOFF 2 reform was the priority of WACOPS. Although legislative attempts were defeated, the effort paved the way for the passage of an improved LEOFF 2 bill during the Regular 2000 legislative session. 
A State general fund budget proviso that mandated a Joint Committee on Pension Policy study on providing additional benefits for LEOFF 2 members. 
The Council filed an amicus brief with the State Supreme Court regarding LEOFF 2 member’s right to sue employers for negligence.  State Supreme Court affirmed that right.
Legislation that provides an award of $150,000 be granted to surviving spouses of LEOFF and Trooper retirement system members killed in the line of duty. 
Legislation that authorized a Standards and Education Board for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Legislation that gave the Council four voting members on the Training Commission. - VETOED Defeated:
Initiatives I-676, a poorly drafted and unworkable gun control initiative.
Initiative 685, the legalization of marijuana. 
Legislation lowering the threshold for Binding Interest Arbitration for Cities and Counties not covered by the Act. Thresholds were reduced to a 2,500 population for Cities and 10,000 population for Counties. 
Legislation that repealed a 1993 law that changed the Health Care system in the State of Washington. 
Legislation that allowed the surviving spouse of a LEOFF 2 member to cash out the members accrued benefit at 150% plus interest rather than 100% plus interest.
Legislation that allowed Peer Counselor Officers privileged communication, the first in the nation.
Legislation that allowed retired or disabled law enforcement officers to receive a CCW permit with the fee waived. 
The establishment of the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor.
Legislation that would have created a LEOFF 3 pension system with a 1% defined benefit plan and a 1% defined contribution plan.
Legislation that made major changes LEOFF 2 pension system including:  reduced the retirement age from 58 years to 55 years, allowed indexed vested benefits, authorized a substantially higher cash-out for members leaving service after ten years;  and put a good portability plan in place. 
Legislation lowering the population threshold for Binding Interest Arbitration.
Legislation allowing University and Public Ports Police officers to either become LEOFF 2 officers or to transfer from PERS to LEOFF 2.
Legislation that allowed Deputy Sheriff’s to transfer to newly incorporated cities when they lost their jobs because of such incorporations or newly annexed areas.
Legislation that allowed LEOFF2 employees, through their local government employers, to participate in the State Health Care Authority. 
Legislation that allowed some LEOFF members to purchase previously withdrawn service time. Defeated:
A LEOFF 2 contribution rate reduction that would have meant doom for near term LEOFF 2 reform. 
Legislation that would have allowed metro security officers (non-sworn) to be given full police powers.
Legislation calling for a study of LEOFF 2 Officers and Fire Fighters who contract heart disease or cancer to be covered under Workmen’s Compensation as an occupational disease.
Legislation that would have repealed tuition waivers for children of deceased and severely disabled police officers, deputy sheriffs and fire fighters (line of duty).
Legislation that added LEOFF 2 survivorship options for disability or death following a disability retirement.
Legislation that allowed LEOFF 2 members post retirement provisions.
Legislation that reduced nursing home care for LEOFF I members. 
Legislation that mandated portability for LEOFF 2 members.
Legislation that re-enacted into permanent law the LEOFF 2 disability leave supplement.
Legislation that granted service retirement for LEOFF 2 members when on duty-connected disability leave.
The Drug Omnibus Act of 1989 which became a national model for dealing with drug crimes.
Legislation that reduced nursing home care for LEOFF I to a monetary rate and quality level afforded by the state for indigents. 
Legislation that mandated pension portability coverage for LEOFF 2 members.
Legislation that increased Industrial Insurance benefits for LEOFF 2 members by increasing L & I payments to 66 2/3% of salary. This bill represented a 33% maximum benefit hike for LEOFF 2 members and their survivors.  Legislation changing the composition of local LEOFF disability boards.
Legislation that included LEOFF 2 under portability coverage without option.
Legislation that provided a presumption that certain diseases for LEOFF 2 members would be considered duty-related.  The employer or the Department of Labor and Industries would have to prove otherwise. -  VETOED. 
Legislation that provided that a LEOFF member was not required to contribute to the pension system in a month when they were not granted service credit. 
Legislation that provided for a constitutional amendment to ensure adequate funding for the LEOFF 1 system. WACOPS opposed because it provided for no additional funds to make improvements to LEOFF 2. 
Legislation that would have required a 60% vote of the Legislature to adopt future pension benefits as opposed to a current simple majority. 
Legislation that required LEOFF 1 members take up to six days accumulated leave before disability was granted and provided for local regulation.
Legislation that provided for a full appropriation before an increase in benefits.
Legislation that provided up to six months maximum full pay to LEOFF 2 members when duty disability incurred, allowed for light duty work while member recuperating without reduction of L&I benefits, and excluded cities under 1,500 population and counties under 10,000 population. Legislation that separated duty disability and non-duty disability pensions from within the same section of law, thus eliminating federal taxation of those benefits. 
A resolution that called for an interim study concerning the needs of LEOFF 2 members. 
An amendment to legislation that guaranteed the 41.20 rights of those members.
Legislation that gave LEOFF members a greater ability to return to the job after a disability. 
Legislation that would have gutted the pre-LEOFF system, 41.20.
Legislation that would abolish the LEOFF local disability boards and transfer their duties to the Department of Labor and Industries. 
Legislation that called for an increase of LEOFF 1 contributions from 6% to 20%. 
Legislation that established stricter procedures for LEOFF 1 members who receive a disability pension and subsequently want to revert to a service retirement because of percentage factors.  Legislation that penalizes self-insurers for not paying LEOFF 2 members on a timely basis and for failure to report work-related injuries.
House Floor Resolution that directed an interim legislative study of the LEOFF 2 Retirement System and the need for improvement.
Legislation that removed disability rights for LEOFF 1 members.
Legislation creating pension portability. This was opposed because employee contribution increases involved.
Legislation that created the LEOFF Plan 2 Retirement System.
Legislation that authorized deductions from the retirement allowance of retired members for payment of health benefit plan premiums. 
Legislation that created a new LEOFF system that included the following:
Employee contributions up to 7.5%; elimination of all medical coverage; elimination of non-duty disability retirement and leave; suspension of duty disability or service retirement allowance if gainfully employed; a mandate that all public employees be members of a single retirement system with Social Security coverage; prohibition for any non-federal Public employer in the State of Washington to employ, on a full-time basis, any person receiving a service or disability retirement allowance, and the placement of all LEOFF members under Industrial Insurance.
Legislation that amended the LEOFF Retirement System and created finite benefits dealing with eye care, restoration of rank when returning from a disability leave or retirement, authorization for local disability boards to deal with disability issues, eliminated wage check-offs and provided that spouses would receive 50% of the salary of members who died while on disability leave. 
Legislation that allowed 41.20 members to have pensions fully indexed for COLA’s.
Legislation that provided free tuition and other college fees for children of law enforcement officers and firefighters disabled or killed in the line of duty.
Legislation that exempted LEOFF members from the inheritance tax.
Legislation that authorized the transfer of any former city time to 41.20; increased police officer and widow pensions under RCW 41.20; and prorated pension payments to minor children. 
Legislation that would have prohibited the state from expending additional state dollars on LEOFF funding in the future over the amount budgeted for the 1973-75 biennium. 
Legislation to prohibit public employees or their representatives from lobbying the legislature.
Legislation that would have allowed police and fire members to be covered only by Workmen’s compensation, restricted medical benefits for members retiring for service, and restricted the same benefits for duty-related illness and injury for active members.
Legislation that would place all LEOFF members under social security coverage and redefine the word “position” which could have caused lower pensions for members. 
A rewritten LEOFF Act with an emergency clause and an implementation date of March 1, 1970. 
Legislation that extended the service retirement and maximum disability allowances and created vesting rights.
Legislation to remove restrictive lids on pensions.
Legislation that created the LEOFF Retirement Act (special session)
Legislation that allowed city and county public employee groups to collective bargain and eliminated residency requirements for prospective employees. 
Legislation creating a Civilian Review Board for law enforcement.
Legislation to merge all pension systems into one, and place them under Workmen’s Compensation and Social Security.
Legislation that exempted police pensions under 41.20 from the State’s inheritance tax.  Legislation that exempted police pensions from any state, county, municipal, or other local tax. 
Legislation that would have given Home Rule authority for all cities of the state, giving the Legislature no say on pensions. 
Legislation mandating a waiver of pensions so long as a police officer held gainful employment after retiring.
Resolution 16 which would have essentially destroyed any pension benefits for our members and would have eliminated sick leave benefits. 
Legislation that would have eliminated the escalator clause for 41.20.