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Rookie Representative's First Bill

Newhouse legislation aiding volunteer firefighters clears House

First-term state Rep. Dan Newhouse last week had his first bill adopted by the House of Representatives.

His colleagues in the House unanimously approved House Bill 1110, which would increase volunteer firefighters pension.

"Nearly 70 percent of Washington's firefighters are volunteers," said Newhouse. "They are the unsung heroes in our community."

The law currently entitles a volunteer firefighter with 25 years of service to a pension. If their employer has paid the pension participation fee for a period of 25 years, a member is paid a monthly pension of $280 for life.

If a member's employer has paid the participation fee for less than 25 years, the member receives a pension of $30 per month, plus an additional $10 for each year the annual participation fee has been paid, up to the $280 maximum.

HB 1110 increases volunteer firefighters monthly pension to $300 if their employer paid the participation fee for 25 years. Firefighters whose employers have paid the participation fee for less than 25 years would receive $50 per month, plus an additional $10 per month for each year the participation fee was paid, up to the $300 maximum.

Newhouse said the proposal would not cost state or local government anything because the pension fund will support the increase.

"Volunteer firefighters regularly risk their lives to protect our communities and receive very little compensation in return," said Newhouse. "We should do all we can to reward their commitment and dedication."

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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