Capitol Report January 21, 2022

The second week of session just ended with several issues receiving a committee hearing. Here are a few highlights from the second week:

A) HB 3 by Representative Tom Leek received its first hearing in the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee. This omnibus bill creates several new initiatives specific to law enforcement officers. The legislation creates the following (taken directly from the staff analysis):Creates the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program to provide one-time bonus payments to newly employed law enforcement officers in Florida;

  • Creates the Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover tuition, fees, and up to $1,000 of eligible education expenses for trainees enrolled in a law enforcement officer basic recruit training program;
  • Creates a reimbursement program to pay for up to $1,000 of equivalency training costs for certified law enforcement officers who relocate to Florida or members of the special operations forces who become full-time law enforcement officers;
  • Provides law enforcement officers who adopt a child from within the state child welfare system with a $25,000 benefit for adopting a child with special needs or a $10,000 benefit for adopting a child without special needs;
  • Makes dependent children of law enforcement officers eligible to receive a Family Empowerment Scholarship to attend a private school;
  • Increases the base salary for each county sheriff by $5,000;
  • Exempts veterans and applicants with an associate degree or higher from taking the basic skills test as a prerequisite to entering a law enforcement officer basic recruit training program;
  • Requires that law enforcement officers receive training in health and wellness principles as part of their initial certification training and continued employment training;
  • Allows law enforcement officers or former law enforcement officers to receive postsecondary credit at Florida public postsecondary educational institutions for training and experience acquired while serving;
  • Encourages each district school board to establish public safety telecommunication training programs and law enforcement explorer programs in public schools; and
  • Designates May 1 of each year as β€œLaw Enforcement Appreciation Day.”

The bill passed 13 – 1. Florida PBA supports the legislation.

B) HB 689 by Representative Mike Giallombardo expands on the time limitation for Workers’ Compensation Coverage of PTSD for First Responders. Currently, an officer has 90 days from the date of the event or manifestation of the disorder (whichever is later) to provide the employer with a notice of injury, or death. However, an officer has 52 weeks from the date of the event to file a workers’ compensation claim.

The legislation provides that the time for notice of injury or death a claim of PTSD is 90 days from the qualifying event that supports the claim or the diagnosis, rather than the manifestation, of the disorder (whichever is later). The bill also provides that the PTSD workers’ compensation claim is prohibited if not properly noticed within one year of the qualifying event, or the diagnosis of the disorder (whichever is later).

The bill passed unanimously. Florida PBA supports the legislation.

C) HSB 1746 & SB 1748 by Senator Jason Brodeur will put forward a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot to provide an additional $50,000 homestead exemption for several classes of critical public service workers.

Please note that we lobbying to add missing members of the “critical public service workforce”.

SB 1746 & SB 1748 are on the Senate’s Community Affairs agenda next week.

PBA supports the legislation.

D) The Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining met today and the Florida PBA bargaining team members made presentations during the allotted time. Please click here to view the hearing. PBA presenters begin at the 59 minute mark.

As always, please stay safe.

Sincerely,

Matt Puckett