SENATE BILL REPORT
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
As of March 12, 2019
Title: An act relating to national guard pay in state active service for wildland fire response duty.
Brief Description: Concerning national guard pay in state active service for wildland fire response duty.
Sponsors: Representatives Leavitt, Klippert, Kilduff, Boehnke, Gildon, Callan, Reeves, Dolan, Barkis, Appleton, Goodman, Young, Riccelli, Bergquist and Stanford; by request of Military Department.
Brief History: Passed House: 3/01/19, 95-0.
Committee Activity: State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections: 3/11/19.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, TRIBAL RELATIONS & ELECTIONS
Staff: Samuel Brown (786-7470)
Background: National Guard. The Washington Constitution provides for the organization of the state militia, with the Governor serving as commander-in-chief. The organized militia consists of the National Guard and the State Guard, situated in the Military Department under the adjutant general. The Washington National Guard includes more than 8000 soldiers and airmen and is headquartered at Camp Murray, Washington. The Governor may order the state militia into active service, among other purposes, in the event of war or other threat of force or violence against the laws of the state or the United States, for a public disaster, or when otherwise required for the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
Officers and enlisted members of the state militia, while in active state service or inactive duty, are entitled to receive the same amount of pay and allowances from the state as provided by federal laws and regulations for officers and enlisted members of the United States Army. State payment is only provided if federal pay and allowances are not authorized. For periods of active state service, officers and enlisted members receive the greater of:
United States Army pay and benefits; or
an amount equal to one and one-half of the federal minimum wage.
Minimum Wage. As of January 1, 2019, Washington's minimum wage for persons sixteen and over is $12.00 per hour. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since July 24, 2009.
National Wildfire Coordinating Group. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (group) was established in 1976 to coordinate the wildfire operations of various agencies. The group also develops standards for training, equipment, aircraft, suppression priorities, and other operational areas. Annually, the group establishes a pay structure for emergency workers hired to address an immediate fire emergency, extreme fire potential, or other emergency, referred to as the administratively determined pay plans for emergency workers.
Summary of Bill: For periods of active service paid by the state, National Guard pay is set at the greater of:
United States armed forces pay and benefits;
state minimum wage; or
for wildland fire response, pay rates established by the administratively determined pay plans for emergency workers.
The adjutant general must establish a pay structure for wildland fire response commensurate with the pay structure of other state agencies providing wildland fire response, subject to the approval of the Office of Financial Management. The pay structure must recognize longevity and responsibility of more senior officers.
Fiscal Note: Available.
Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.
Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony: PRO: National Guard members, who are regular citizens with day jobs, are increasingly called on to assist in wildfire response. We have not updated this statute in 30 years, so National Guard members are now paid less than minimum wage to protect land, property, and lives. National Guard members do the same work as firefighters for less pay than fast food workers. This bill signals to everyone fighting fires that they are valued and respected.
Persons Testifying: PRO: Representative Mari Leavitt, Prime Sponsor; Brigadier General Wallace Turner, Washington Military Department; Robert Sweeney, National Guard Association of Washington; Michael Brandstetter, Veterans Legislative Coalition.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: No one.