A wildfire near Darrington in 2017. Photo courtesy of Northwest Washington Incident Management Team

A wildfire near Darrington in 2017. Photo courtesy of Northwest Washington Incident Management Team

National Guard could see pay bump for wildfire response

House passes bill with 94-0 vote

  • Monday, March 4, 2019 3:50pm
  • News

By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — State representatives passed a bill in a 94-0 vote on Friday to increase the pay of National Guard members for their wildland fire response duty.

House Bill 1137 is co-sponsored by 15 bipartisan representatives and introduced by Rep. Mari Leavitt, D-Lakewood. The bill was requested by the state Military Department.

“Washington has a wildfire crisis,” said Leavitt at the floor hearing. “People are losing their property, their lands and even their lives.”

According to Leavitt, the state hit a record number of wildfires last year, resulting in 440,000 acres burned. The National Guard has been assisting in wildland fire response, stemming from the increase in fires, she explained.

The legislation aims to update the pay structure for wildland fire response so that it is equal to other state agencies handling wildfires. The director of the state Military Department would be responsible for establishing the pay structure, subject to approval by the Office of Financial Management.

“In 30 years, we have not updated the compensation statute for our National Guard members,” Leavitt said. “We are failing them.”

National guard members are paid less than minimum wage to protect our wildlands and homes, she said. HB 1137 would require pay and allowances equal to that of the United States Armed Forces or state minimum wage.

The measure was Leavitt’s first bill to be passed by the House. The companion Senate bill, SB 5196, will be considered next.

[flipp]

More in News

Political activist Tim Eyman campaigns for Initiative 976 on Nov. 5 in downtown Bellevue. The initiative promised $30 car tabs while functionally eliminating the ability of agencies like Sound Transit to raise taxes for its projects. Photo by Aaron Kunkler
Election analysis: Eastside cities largely voted against I-976

Most Eastside cities weren’t swayed by I-976, though more voters approved it than the county average.

A King County judge found the company misled customers into thinking it was a charity. Photo courtesy of the state Attorney General’s office
Judge rules Value Village deceived customers

The King County judge found the company misled customers into thinking it was a charity.

St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond hosted an Eastside Community Forum on Homelessness and Poverty on Oct. 28.
St. Jude hosts forum on homelessness and poverty

Eastside City officials, nonprofits and inter-faith communities attended the forum on Oct. 28.

Courtesy photos
                                Unhealthy, dying, decaying trees present hazard.
How to prevent falling trees

Unhealthy, dying, decaying trees present hazard.

Longtime Mercer Island barber dies

Generations of haircuts, a passion driven by his clients.

Mercer Island City Hall. File photo.
City amends code related to business licenses

Licenses now obtained through state online system.

Courtesy photo
                                Yogi Agrawal and Mercer Island rotarian Vivian Stumbles plant trees during a Rotary Club event Oct. 27 on Mount Baker.
Mercer Island rotarians plant trees

Mount Baker gains 500 seedlings in wildfire area.

Tully’s site purchase on city council agenda in November

The property is planned to become transit commuter parking.

Most Read