Capitol Report April 16, 2021

This report is about week seven of the nine week session. This week was the beginning of the “will they” phase of session.
As in…

Will they pass pension reform? The House does not have a bill.

Will they pass police reform? The House is advancing a modest proposal. Senate not so much.

Will they provide every state, city and county law enforcement officer, correctional officer and correctional probation officer with a bonus? They are talking like they might fund this from the $10 Billion in stimulus monies.

Will they bring the budget in for landing on time? Budget Conferencing started on Friday.

Truth be told, I have no idea about any this right now. I’m struggling with severe trust issues. Plus my spidey senses aren’t tingling like they normally do at this point of session. Heck, I owe a beer over one the surest legislative bets of the year so don’t take what I am writing to the bank. This is a session unlike any other that may end up like every other. Or maybe not. Just understand that we have two weeks to go and we’re still in the game. Please read through my summary below.

Until next week.

Matt Puckett
Executive Director

House Advances Modest Police Reform

HB 7051 by Representative Cord Byrd came up from the House Judiciary Committee early last week and zoomed through two committees in three days. That can happen. This legislation is consistent with discussions of all interested to include the Florida PBA. The Senate does not have similar legislation.

HB 7051 addresses the following issues (here’s the summary taken from the Judiciary Committee Staff Analysis):

  • Requiring the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to develop basic skills training and each law enforcement or correctional agency to develop policies in the use of force, including:
  1. Proportional use of force;
  2. Alternatives to use of force, including de-escalation techniques;
  3. Limiting the use of a chokehold to circumstances where a law enforcement officer perceives an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death to themselves or another person;
  4. The duty to intervene if an officer is on-duty and witnesses another officer using or attempting to use excessive force when such intervention is reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances and the observing officer may intervene without jeopardizing his or her safety;
  5. The duty to render medical assistance following the use of force when an officer knows, or when it is otherwise evident, that a person who is detained or in custody is injured or requires medical attention and the action is reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances and the officer may render aid without jeopardizing his or her safety; and
  6. Instruction on the recognition and characteristics of a person with a substance abuse disorder or mental illness and appropriate responses to such a person.
  • Requiring an independent review of a use of force incident involving death or the intentional discharge of a firearm that results in injury or death to any person to be conducted by another law enforcement agency, a law enforcement officer employed by another agency, or the state attorney and requiring such agency or officer to complete a report to be provided to the state attorney;
  • Requiring each law enforcement agency to report use of force incidents that result in serious bodily injury, death, or the discharge of a firearm at a person to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on a quarterly basis;
  • Requiring an applicant for employment as a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or a correctional probation officer to disclose whether he or she is the subject of a pending investigation and whether he or she separated or resigned from previous criminal justice employment while under investigation;
  • Requiring a law enforcement or correctional agency to include the facts and reasons an applicant was separated from previous employment as part of a background check investigation of an applicant for employment;
  • Requiring a law enforcement or correctional agency to maintain an officer’s employment information for a minimum of five years following the date of an officer’s termination, resignation, or retirement; and
  • Prohibiting a child younger than seven years of age from being arrested, charged, or adjudicated delinquent for delinquent act or violation of law, unless the violation of law is a forcible felony as defined in s. 776.08, F.S.

Budget Conferencing Started

In a nice surprise, the Legislature started budget conferencing over the weekend. The subcommittee chairs handle this portion of the conferencing and all unresolved issues are bumped to the Appropriations Chairs later today. There are several issues we are working on for our individual agency members, but from a broader perspective we are lobbying for the stimulus money for bonuses, we supported the State Law Enforcement Radio System receiving full funding (which by the way happened yesterday), and we are lobbying for pay raises for state bargaining unit members.

All other issues will be addressed in separate communications by your individual chapter so please watch for alerts.