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 News

File photo
$30 car tab proposal returns to ballot in November

Tim Eyman-led initiative would restrict car tabs and transportation benefit districts in Washington.

File photo
King County alcohol production ordinance could be approved by year’s end

Update to county code has been more than a year in the making.

Bring Fido and a can of food to support local animal shelters

“You Lucky Dog!” is more than an expression, it’s an event in… Continue reading

Renton Schools Foundation to host gala

To celebrate 10 years and welcome a new executive director, the Renton… Continue reading

Carol Ann Witschi
Witschi’s seat to stay vacant till election

Renton City Council has decided to leave councilmember Carol Ann Witschi’s seat… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Faith-Maria, a third grader at St. Anthony Elementary School in Renton, asked Make-a-Wish to share her wish with her school, which resulted in two new smart boards. Faith-Maria with her family at the unveiling, Sept. 12.
A selfless wish for Renton schools

Faith-Maria Nguyen uses Make-A-Wish to provide school a smart board

Photo by Haley Ausbun. RESP union members attended the Sept. 11 Renton School Board meeting to make their story heard as they continue to negotiate for a new contract with the district.
Union leader: ‘Give us what we deserve’

Update: Paraprofessionals and staff have reached a tentative agreement with the Renton School District

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Photo left to right: David Rodriguez, Tony Ventrella, Rachel Chronister, Marla Veliz, Reagan Dunn, and Gavin Hunt at the Sept. 10 ribbon cutting for the New Horizon School van, gifted by King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn through the retired van program.
County van to increase New Horizon’s inclusivity

A vehicle gifted to a school for students with learning disabilities will support outreach

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Tiffany Park Elementary School teachers and parents hold up signs before the Sept. 11 Renton School Board meeting, over the loss of a fourth grade classroom that reorganized the fourth and fifth graders at the school.
Teacher changes shake up parents’ confidence in Renton schools

A quick staffing change and classroom switch has parents questioning Renton School District

Most Read