We completed the sixth week of the 2020 Legislative Session.
Joining the lobbying team this week were Senior Vice President Mick McHale, Vice President Jim Baiardi, CPO Aaron Rivas, PBA Lobbyist Gary Bradford, PBA Lobbyist Ken Kopczynski, General Counsel Stephanie Webster, and me.
The style of this session has been quite orderly. We reached the end of week six with both budgets passed and ready for conference negotiations (pay raises are still both versions of the budget). The chambers are wrapping up the policy issues still in play (like our Bill of Rights legislation). Many subcommittees are either finished meeting, or heading into the last meeting of the session. To steal an analogy from PBA Lobbyist Ken Kopczynski, the ship is docking whether you’re ready for it, or not. Our team is ready and from looks of things so is everyone else.
The Bill of Rights legislation received another hearing in the Senate this week. The Senate Appropriations for Civil and Criminal Justice unanimously passed SB 884 by Senator Ed Hooper on Tuesday. The legislation was amended to match the House version HB 453 by Representative Wymann Duggan. The amended language adds part time officers and clarifies the definition of complaint to mean regardless of origin (internal or external) the investigation must be completed in 180 days. The Fraternal Order of Police (specifically Steve Zona and Lisa Henning) have been excellent partners with us on this legislation. We continue to work with Florida Police Chiefs’ Association on an amendment to the legislation which will allow a smaller agency of 35 officers or less to seek support from an outside agency when a conflict exists within the investigations’ division. The Appropriations Committee is next stop for the both bills.
Issues we continue to lobby for:
Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers. The Senate and House released separate pay raise proposals at the end of the week. An agreement on wages must be reached before March 13th.
Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension for Special Risk Members hired prior to July 1, 2011 and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.
Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons (HB 425) and Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858).
Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in conjunction with other agency resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.
SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry & Representative Joseph Casello (HB 573) are our sponsors.
If you are experiencing signs of depression, or if you are struggling a mental health issue please visit JonsChallenge.org
Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.
Our sponsors for this legislation are Representative Wymann Duggan (HB 453) and Senator Ed Hooper (SB 884).
Until next time, please stay safe and may God bless you.