We completed the third week of the 2020 Legislative Session.
This week’s lobbying team consisted of Vice President of Services Jim Baiardi, FHP President William Smith, Vice President of Chapters Steve Slade, State Correctional Officer Andrew Reese, State Correctional Officer Mark Caruso, State Correctional Officer Scott Torres, State Correctional Officer , Correctional Probation Officer Crystal Summerlin, PBA Lobbyist Gary Bradford, PBA Lobbyist Ken Kopczynski, General Counsel Stephanie Webster, and me.
The team lobbied on the mental health legislation this week. The Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee unanimously passed SB 1586 (by Senators Ed Hooper and Ben Albritton) which creates a task force consisting of Florida PBA, FOP, Florida Professional Firefighters, Florida Sheriffs’ Association, Florida Police Chiefs’ Association, and Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association to examine officer mental health and suicide. This task force will provide prevention recommendations to the 2021 Florida Legislature and Governor.
Additionally, HB 573 by Representative Joe Casallo creates peer to peer provisions in state law. The peer to peer counseling system has shown success at suicide prevention when properly implemented. The bill passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee unanimously.
Florida PBA lobbyists supported both proposals during committee.
Our lobbyists also met with other law enforcement groups to try to reach agreement on our changes to the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights legislation. We are confident that an agreement can be reached.
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.
*Exclusive sponsor of the Florida PBA’s Capitol Report. The opinions expressed and positions articulated on legislative and regulatory matters are those of the Florida PBA and not those of the Lincoln Financial Group.