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

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.

More in Northwest

Gov. Jay Inlsee signs into law the Native American Voting Rights Act, which allows a non-traditional address to be used for voter registration for residents who live on reservations. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Native American Voting Rights Act signed into law

Non-traditional addresses can be used for voter registration on tribal lands

United Methodist vote has churches’ future in question

Congregations debate separation following gay-clergy, same-sex marriage ban.

U.S. is now grounding Renton-made 737 MAX 8 and 9; Boeing supports decision

Update: The decision does not affect Renton production lines.

Courtesy photo
State lawmakers seek permanent daylight saving time in Washington

Senate and House are working toward compromise on two bills; voters could decide in November election

Fires, floods, destruction: Washington copes with worsening climate change

From rising sea levels and crop failures to dying forests and fish, Washington state is struggling

One of Seattle Weekly’s “Best of Seattle” issues from Aug. 2016.
Seattle Weekly’s last print edition is Feb. 27

Message to readers from Josh O’Connor, president of Sound Publishing

Photo courtesy of U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Legislature ‘prays’ for Congress to curb president’s ability to launch nukes

Washington has more nuclear weapons than any other state

Auburn Riverside defenders bring down Kennedy Catholic’s Junior Alexander during North Puget Sound League Mountain Division action in Oct. 2018 at Auburn Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Lawmakers push concussion awareness and best practices in sports

SB 5238 requires University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center to compile research data

Primrose School of West Bellevue saw a second location in Washington open in 2018. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Parents are feeling the pinch of child care costs

A King County report charts ways the county could reduce child care costs and boost access.

Split Washington in two? 51st state movement highlights cultural divide

Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane introduces bill to establish state in Eastern Washington called Liberty

Repercussions could come to law enforcement who refuse I-1639, AG says

‘State and local law enforcement must uphold Washington law.’

Proposal calls for banning eye tattoos in Washington state

Canada has already banned this procedure