June 21st 2024

How Will HB 2097 Impact YOU?

By Attorney Joe Fischnaller

  1. It appears that the new unified LEOFF Board will do away with the need for the numerous LEOFF I Disability Boards that presently exist, since the new unified LEOFF Board will make all decisions regarding additional benefits over those basic benefits set forth in RCW 41.26.030(19). This would mean that all of the benefits that are given by the individual, local Disability Boards, under RCW 41.26.150(10(b) would no longer be available to LEOFF I members, unless the New Unified Board chose to make them available. This would require the New Board's vote to add these benefits and the Legislature's forbearance before a given benefit could be granted. In addition, the additional benefit would have to apply to all LEOFF II people as well as LEOFF I, since the two systems would be joined. This may well raise an issue under Bakkenhus v. City of Seattle, 48 Wn.2d 695, 296 P.2d 536 (1956). While the specific additional healthcare benefits granted to LEOFF I members by each of the existing LEOFF I Disability Boards are probably not contractual in nature, because the Boards have the power to increase or diminish them as the Disability Boards deem appropriate; the right of LEOFF I members to have those individual, local Disability Boards probably is contractual and within Bakkenhus.

  2. Because the new unified LEOFF Board consists of a disproportionate number of LEOFF II members as compared to LEOFF I members, and yet it has the power to set the contribution rates for both LEOFF I and LEOFF II members in the future. This may well be something of a due process or "taxation without representation" issue that will take some further analysis.