OLYMPIA -- There are still many questions for the legislative session, but at least one certainty: passage of improvements in pensions and other benefits for law enforcement and firefighters.
Spurred by a series of murders of law enforcement officers in Western Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire and members of both parties in both houses are ready to extend full pension benefits to police, sheriffs deputies, state troopers and firefignters killed in the line of duty even if they haven't been on the job the currently required 10 years.
A bill to do just that, HB 2519, as well as lift the penalty for a surviving spouse and to waive tuition and fees at any state college for that spouse or the children of the slain officer or fire fighter, sailed out of the House Ways and Means Committee this afternoon with no debate and no questions for the witnesses calling for its passage.
After emotional testimony from widows of slain officers, the chief of police of Lakewood, Wash., where four officers were murdered Nov. 29, other law enforcement officials and the state pension board, the committee voted 22-0 to send the bill to the floor with a "Do Pass" recommendation from both parties.