Capitol Report – April 19, 2019

The Florida PBA met with Governor Ron DeSantis this week to discuss our budget priorities.  The Governor and his staff were gracious with their time.  His message was clear, he fully supports Florida’s law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and correctional probation officers.

from left to right – FLPBA Executive Director Matt Puckett, FLPBA VP Jim Baiardi, Dade Couny PBA President Steadman Stahl, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, FLPBA President John Kazanjian, and FLPBA Senior VP Mick McHale.

Our legislative priorities are safe on his watch. Now, we just have to get all of our items to his desk.

Also please join me in thanking a great group of Correctional Probation Officers led by Anatrisha Jackson, Lisa Barker, Aaron Rivas, Chris Morrissey, Kerrie Lewis, and Dan Kubach; who along with PBA lobbyists Gary Bradford and Ken Kopczynski lobbied the Capitol.

There are two weeks left. Please read the summaries below –

Pay raises for State Law Enforcement Officers, Lottery Law Enforcement Officers, FDLE Special Agents, Florida Highway Patrol, Correctional Probation Officers, and Correctional Officers

The budget conference committee will decide the final pay raise outcomes, besides meeting with Governor DeSantis – the PBA team met with several key House and Senate leaders to include Senator Rob Bradley (Budget Chairman), Senator Wilton Simpson (Majority Leader), Representative Travis Cummings (Budget Chairman), Representative Chris Sprowls (Rules Chairman), and Representative Paul Renner (Judiciary Chairman) about securing pay raise funding.

There have been no changes in the status of any pay raise proposals. The hunt for additional money to fund all officers is ongoing.

SB 920 by Senator Jason Pizzo and HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala

The idea is to help speed up the process for an arrest of a DNA match. Current law, requires a search warrant to collect a buccal swab of a person who matches a crime scene sample and an offender profile in CODIS. This step was added because sample collections are performed by humans and humans make mistakes. However, we strongly believe that a warrant for arrest should be an option available to a judge when a CODIS match is found.

The legislation gives a judge the option to issue a warrant for arrest, or search warrant for a comparative DNA sample.

HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala unanimously passed the House of Representatives (114 – 0).

SB 920 by Senator Jason Pizzo unanimously passed the Senate Rules and has been placed on the Senate Special Order calendar for next Tuesday.

SB 76 by Senator Wilton Simpson and HB 107 by Representatives Emily Slosberg and Jackie Toledo

The legislation will make texting while driving, or, perhaps even, distracted driving a primary traffic offense. The question over whether this offense should be texting while driving, or distracted driving is dividing the Legislature.

Both bills completed the committee process this week and have been placed on each chambers’ Special Order calendar for next Tuesday.

The bills are very different. The Senate bill addresses distracted driving as a whole while the house bill only addresses texting while driving. The bills must match in order for final passage.

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons

The legislation was amended last week fit the impact study results for a 2% COLA floor for all special risk members hired prior to July 1, 2011 and then retire as a special risk member after July 1, 2011. The language will not lower your COLA calculation if you are currently receiving more than 2% in retirement.

Based on the study, a 2% COLA floor will require a $113 million impact to this year’s budget although most of the impact is on counties with the state’s impact set at $24 million.

We finally have a real costs estimate associated with the legislation. Now, we have to convince the Legislature to fund it.

Criminal Justice

We continue to be involved in the debate around criminal justice reform. The Senate is conducting a full scale review of our sentencing laws to specifically include minimum mandatory sentences for drug offenses, along incarceration models and diversion programs.

Other Issues

We are also working with other special interests groups on an array of issues during this session. You can always contact me if there’s a question about something that I did, or did not cover.

Until next time please stay safe and may God bless you.

Matt Puckett
Executive Director


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