BCPBA News

The Capitol Report For The Week Of April 3-7

Week five of the session, we are at the halfway point of session.

  • Legislative budget proposals get first hearings of the year and PBA units are receiving raises in both plans.
  • Body camera footage review legislation completes Senate Committee schedule and heads to the Senate floor to join the House of Representatives’ identical version.
  • FRS COLA studies have not been completed.
  • Local pension bills continue to move through the House of Representatives.
  • The elected sheriff’s legislation ran into opposition in both chambers.
  • The Department of Corrections legislation was amended at the PBA’s request to keep LTs, CPTs, CPOs Supervisors and CPO Senior Supervisors in the bargaining unit.

Please review our mid-session summaries below.

Pay Raises Proposals
The Senate and House Appropriations Committees approved the respective chamber’s initial pay raise proposals. The details are:

  • The Senate budget includes a pay raise for all state employees on September 30, 2017 ($1,400 for employees earning under $40,000 per year and $1,000 for employees earning over $40,000). This raise is on top of the specific raises for the units listed below.
  • Both budgets include a 5% across the board pay raise for the FHP, Law Enforcement Officers and FDLE Special Agents bargaining units (Senate Plan includes the Lottery Law Enforcement Unit, but House left the unit out by mistake).
  • Correctional Officers of all classes in the Security Services bargaining unit will receive an additional pay raise (see details below) in the Senate Budget. The House proposal includes a $1,300 across the board pay raise for COs in all bargaining unit classes.
  • Correctional Probation Officers (all bargaining unit classes) and Institutional Security Specialists are only included in the across the board raise for all state employees in the Senate and not included in the House proposal (please see below for details).

Correctional Officers Pay Raise in Senate Budget
On July 1, 2017, each correctional officer in all classes of the bargaining unit will receive a minimum of $2,500, or the amount necessary to move the employee to following new base amount:

  • Correctional Officer – $33,500
  • Correctional Officer SGT – $36,850
  • Correctional Officer LT – $40,535
  • Correctional Officer CPT – $44,589

Correctional Probation Officers and Institutional Security Specialists
Correctional Probation Officers and Institutional Security Specialists are not included in the July 1st pay raises in either budget proposal. The Senate does include both employee groups in the September 30th proposal.

The justification for not including the CPOs and ISS centered on turnover and vacancy rates.

The PBA disagrees with the Legislature’s assessment. We are discussing inclusion with both leadership teams (House and Senate). Once the conference committees (budget negotiations) get to work on the differences of the two proposals, our team will lobby hard for inclusion. With four weeks to go, we still have plenty of time to add CPOs and ISS to the plan.

Like I said last week, it is not the time to get give up, or lash out. We always anticipated varying levels of funding for pay raises and zero has been a possibility from the beginning. We are fully prepared to address this through our lobbying team. Please do not let this setback cause you or your fellow officers to attack legislators. That is counterproductive to our strategy and it will guarantee that you will not be added to the pay raises plan in the end.

PBA is going to put boots on the ground to make sure you are included. We have a large team of lobbyists already, but if you have an interest in joining us in Tallahassee to help, please call me at 1-800-733-3722, or email matt@flpba.org.

State Employee Health Insurance Premiums
No employee premium increases included in either budget and the spousal program stays in effect.

The Career Development Plan
The Career Development plan has become the doubling of the Salary Incentive program for state agencies. This change in strategy was done at PBA’s request. SB 168 by Senator Jack Latvala was amended to allow the doubling of salary incentive dollars for participating officers. The concept was one of the issues that came out of our career development workgroup.

The House bill (SB 247) has been stalled because of fiscal concerns since the start of session. If we can keep the doubling of the salary incentive plan alive in the Senate, perhaps we can get a compromise position on the issue during budget negotiations (conference committee).

There is still a lot pushback towards creating a step plan. We have to keep making it a priority and educating the Legislature, DMS and the Governor on why it is important to the long viability of each agency.

It is our belief that going after the Career Development Plan Workgroup concepts will go a long way to making step plans a reality.

Local Pension Plans
PBA Lobbyists are monitoring both the West Palm Beach ( HB 1135) and Tampa ( HB 533) pension plans. Each bill continues to receive hearings and move through the process.

Body Camera Footage Review
HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison passed the full Florida House of Representatives (116-0) last week. It is in the Senate now.

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously passed SB 624 by Senator Greg Steube which wrapped this bill’s committee schedule. The bills are now ready to be united on the Senate floor for final passage.

Sheriffs Must Be Elected
Both bills were temporarily postponed this week. Negotiations are underway to get the bills back on track before time runs out.

Reinstating the FRS COLA
The PBA and Firefighters presented study proposals to the Senate in the early weeks of February, but these impact studies have not been completed. We are in a holding pattern.

Please join me in thanking John Rivera, Jeff Marano, Luis Fuste, Blanca Greenwood, Pablo Lima, Rod Skirvin, Stephanie Womble, Tom Tiberio, and Anastasios Kamoutas for joining us in Tallahassee this week.

The Capitol Report For The Week Of March 27-31

The Senate and House have released their initial pay raise proposals. The details are:

-The Senate budget includes a pay raise for all state employees on September 30, 2017 ($1,400 for employees earning under $40,000 per year and $1,000 for employees earning over $40,000). This raise is on top of the specific raises for the units listed below.

– Both budgets include a 5% across the board pay raise for the FHP, Law Enforcement Officers and FDLE Special Agents bargaining units (Senate Plan includes the Lottery Law Enforcement Unit, but House left the unit out by mistake).

– Correctional Officers of all classes in the Security Services bargaining unit will receive an additional pay raise (see details below) in the Senate Budget. The House proposal includes a $1,300 across the board pay raise for COs in all bargaining unit classes.

– Correctional Probation Officers (all bargaining unit classes) and Institutional Security Specialists are only included in the across the board raise for all state employees in the Senate and not included in the House proposal (please see below for details).

Correctional Officers Pay Raise in Senate Budget
On July 1, 2017, each correctional officer in all classes of the bargaining unit will receive a minimum of $2,500, or the amount necessary to move the employee to following new base amount:

  • Correctional Officer – $33,500
  • Correctional Officer SGT – $36,850
  • Correctional Officer LT – $40,535
  • Correctional Officer CPT – $44,589

Correctional Probation Officers and Institutional Security Specialists
Obviously, the biggest oversight in both budgets is not including CPOs and ISS. PBA has already been in contact with Secretary Jones and Senate & House budget staff to begin addressing this situation.

The justification for not including the CPOs and ISS centered on turnover and vacancy rates. This issue is incredibly misleading since the CPOs had a three year hiring freeze and then filled the positions over the last two years. Basically, you are being a victim of the agency’s success in hiring in new officers.

The PBA and Secretary Jones strongly disagree with the Legislature’s assessment of the agency’s need and we have asked for the CPOs inclusion. PBA will also work to include ISS into a new proposal.

We have five weeks to fix this oversight and now is not the time to get give up, or lash out. We always anticipated varying levels of funding for pay raises and zero has been a possibility from the beginning. We are fully prepared to address this through our lobbying team. Please do not let this setback cause you or your fellow officers to attack legislators. That is counterproductive to our strategy and it will guarantee that you will not be added to the pay raises plan in the end.

Health Insurance Premiums
No employee premium increase included in either budget and the spousal program stays in effect.

Salary Incentive Proposal
SB 168 by Senator Jack Latvala was amended to allow the doubling of salary incentive dollars for participating officers. The concept was one of the issues that came out of our career development workgroup. The bill passed the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee.

Local Pension Plans
PBA lobbyists continue to monitor the Tampa pension bill HB 1153 by Representative Matt Willhite. It passed the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee.

Body Camera Footage Review
HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison passed the full Florida House of Representatives (116 -0). This legislation will allow an officer wearing a body camera to review the recorded footage of an incident before making a statement, or writing a report.

The legislation in the Senate has one more committee stop before it will be available to be heard on the Senate floor.

Sheriffs Must Be Elected
SB 134 by Senator Frank Artiles was heard in the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee. The bill will place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 General Election Ballot asking voters to approve the statewide requirement that all sheriffs must be elected. Currently, only Dade County has an appointed public safety director. PBA testified in support of the legislation. The bill passed the committee.

Three PBA Supported Bills Pass the House of Representatives

  • HB 39 by Representative Evan Jenne adds autism awareness training to FDLE’s criminal justice training requirements.
  • HB 111 by Representative Cynthia Stafford creates a two year public record exemption for a witness to a murder.
  • HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison allows a law enforcement officer utilizing a body worn camera to review recorded footage from his or her camera before writing a report or making a statement.

Please join me in thanking George Lofton, Jonathan Van Houten, Markus Hughes and Matt Enhoffer for joining us in Tallahassee this week.

The Capitol Report For The Week Of March 20-24

Week three of the session brought progress for several of our key issues.

  • Body camera footage review legislation passes Senate Committee.
  • Career development legislation will receive a hearing next Monday.

Please review the brief summaries of week three and the direction we are heading.

State Employee Pay Raises
Senator Jack Latvala has agreed to amendment our career development legislation SB 168 to allow the doubling of salary incentive dollars for participating officers. The concept was one of the issues that came out of our career development workgroup. The bill will be heard on Monday in the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee.

We are still waiting for either chamber (the Senate or House) to release their budget proposal for pay raises.

Highway Patrol Pilot Program
HB 7061 was heard this week in the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The legislation will create a pilot program removing the Highway Patrol from Pinellas and Polk Counties. The idea is not currently being discussed in the Senate, but Senator Jack Latvala has indicated that before any pilot program like this moves forward he will have a workgroup created to study all of the issues and concerns. If the study makes any recommendations those issues will be dealt with in next year’s session.

There is still a lot time left in this year’s session so this issue will no doubt linger.

The House leadership has set this legislation in motion and it will likely continue to move in that chamber. Most likely passing each committee and then the full body on a partisan vote.

From the PBA’s perspective, the best place to defeat/slowdown/amend the bill is in the Senate. We have spoken to the House bill sponsor (Representative Julio Gonzalez) and the Sheriffs’ Association indicating our opposition to the pilot program. They are fully aware that we will oppose the bill in the Senate and, if need be, we will agree to Latvala’s study.

Local Pension Plans
PBA lobbyists continue to monitor the Tampa pension bill HB 533 by Representative Janet Cruz. It passed the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee on Monday.

Body Camera Footage Review
SB 624 by Senator Greg Steube received a hearing this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will allow a law enforcement officer to review the footage from his or her camera prior to writing a report, or making a statement about an incident arising from his or her official duties. PBA Executive Director Matt Puckett testified in support of the legislation. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison will be heard on the floor of the House of Representatives next Wednesday, March 29th.

Sheriffs Must Be Elected
HB 721 by Representative Jason Fischer was heard in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill will place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 General Election Ballot asking voters to approve the statewide requirement that all sheriffs must be elected. Currently, only Miami-Dade County has an appointed public safety director. PBA President John Rivera testified in support of the legislation. The bill passed the committee.

Autism Awareness Training
HB 39 by Representative Evan Jenne was also heard in the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation adds autism awareness training to FDLE’s criminal justice training requirements. Gary Bradford testified in support of this legislation. The bill passed.

Please join me in thanking John Rivera, John Kazanjian, Ernie George, Pablo Lima, Lou Penque, Lizeth Barriel and Al Lopez for joining us in Tallahassee this week.

The Capitol Report For The Week Of March 13-17

Week two of the session brought progress for several of our key issues.

  1. Our team of lobbyists and attorneys worked out the details of an amendment to the body camera footage legislation with the Florida Sheriffs’ Association.
  2. The Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, Senator Jack Latvala told his committee that “substantial help is on the way” to fund pay raises.
  3. We also shopped around an amendment to the Career Development Plan.

Once again, we hit every goal we set for the week. So let’s discuss where we are after week two and the direction we are heading.

State Employee Pay Raises
Senator Jack Latvala told the Florida Department of Corrections that “substantial help is on the way” for funding of employee pay raises. He also reminded everyone that a pay raise for all state employees is his top priority.

Secretary Julie Jones presented a strong case for raises in her public comments to the Senate Appropriations Committee. PBA did not get to make public comments during the hearing, but we made our pay recommendation known to the committee members prior to the meeting. Our proposal requests an across the board raise for all FDC officers.

Also, we are thrilled to see a FDC Secretary fight for the employees so persuasively. Secretary Jones made the case for raises today and she left the door open for much more than she was asking for which is where PBA’s proposal comes into play. By working together on a total pay package, we aim to include every officer in the final product.

The Senate did not release a pay raise proposal this week as we hoped, but Senator Latvala’s remarks are very encouraging that a Senate pay raise proposal is forthcoming.

PBA has been steadfast in our position that more needs to be done for all of our state bargaining unit officers than what has been proposed by the Governor. His proposal is greatly appreciated, but the funding levels do not address the real needs of any of the agencies. Low pay continues to plague the retention rates.

We also keyed in on a concept from our Career Development Plan workgroup. We are asking the Legislature to look at providing matching funds to the Salary Incentive Program. If this idea takes hold, we will incorporate an amendment into our legislation (SB 168 & HB 247). Stay tuned.

Highway Patrol Pilot Program
Speaking of Senator Latvala … he had a meeting between the leadership of the Florida Highway Patrol and the Sheriff of Pinellas County to discuss the pilot program idea being floated by the House of Representatives. The reader’s digest version of the discussion is that the Senate wants more time (like more than the 60 days of session) to review the concerns raised by the Sheriff. The leadership of the Highway Patrol has been heavily engaged on this issue and I believe The Patrol has the data to back up its position. So we could be headed for the creation of a taskforce, or a workgroup on the matter.

Local Pension Plans
HB 1135 by Representative Matt Willhite concerning changes to the West Palm Beach pension plan received a hearing in the House’s Local, Federal & Veteran Affairs Committee. It passed unanimously. The plan is a special act requiring legislative approval to the changes from the latest round of collective bargaining. PBA lobbyists are monitoring the bill’s progress.

Body Camera Review
HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison received a hearing this week in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill will allow a law enforcement officer to review the footage from his or her camera prior to writing a report, or making a statement about an incident arising from his or her official duties. PBA Lobbyist Gary Bradford testified in support of the legislation. Our attorneys and lobbyists worked together with the Florida Sheriffs’ Association on an amendment to tighten up one public safety concern the legislation created. The amendment states that an officer has an inherent duty to provide basic safety information at a crime scene to preserve the scene and identify suspects and witnesses. The bill has completed all House committee assignments and is now ready to go to the House floor. The Senate bill (SB 624) is expected to receive a second committee hearing next week.

Public Records Exemption for a Witness to a Murder
HB 111 by Representative Cynthia Stafford received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation will exempt from the public record a murder witness’ personal information from the public’s view for two years. PBA Lobbyist Gary Bradfordtestified in support of the legislation. He was also publicly recognized by Representative Stafford as being incredibly instrumental to the success of this legislation. Great work Gary.

Autism Awareness Training
HB 39 by Representative Evan Jenne was also heard in the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation adds autism awareness training to FDLE’s criminal justice training requirements. Gary Bradford testified in support of this legislation, too. The bill passed.

Thanks to the PBA Team of Attorneys and Lobbyists
Please join me in offering extra praise on PBA’s team of attorneys and lobbyists. We have a tremendous group of professionals who only have your best interests in mind. Most of their actions are not glamorous and, therefore, are often unnoticed. I know I feel blessed to have them as my co-workers and I sincerely appreciate all their efforts.

The Capitol Report For The Week Up March 6-10

The Legislature was off to the races after the normal pomp and circumstance of opening day flashed by with very little fanfare. Legislative committee meetings started earlier and ran later than normal for a first week which keeps with the unusual pace from interim committees. The lobbying corps and legislators may be uptight about the workload at this point in the session, but, one thing is for sure, bills are moving.

PBA had multiple bills up during the first part of the week which gave us time to conduct important meetings on Thursday and Friday. If you have been keeping up with our weekly reports (and I encourage you to do so, because this report is a weekly running thread not an exhaustive “here’s everything you need to know” outline), then you know our lobbying team feels good about how we keep checking off our weekly goals.

So let’s discuss where we are after week one and the direction we are heading.

State Employee Pay Raises
All indications point to legislative budget allocations being released next week. Therefore, it was imperative to get our proposal to the Legislature early and we did. We have issued PBA’s wage proposal to all of the appropriations (budget) staff and the legislative leadership.

Our proposal includes an across the board ($10,000) wage increase, an increase of $10,000 to starting salaries, the creation of a career development plan (step plan), expansion of CAD and increases to the salary incentive program. We testified before the Joint Legislative Collective Bargaining Committee in February and outlined our plan which is designed to move all PBA bargaining units (Corrections, Probation, Highway Patrol, State Law Enforcement, FDLE Special Agents and Lottery) into a completely new broad band level. It is aggressive, especially compared to other state employee units, but we believe it is necessary.

The Governor released his proposal, too. He included raises for all of the PBA bargaining units and no other state employees.

Once the Legislative proposals are released, we will understand the full range of potential options on the table. This means we will have at least four different proposals on the table. Do not be surprised if at least one proposal is a “no raise” proposal. That is how bargaining works. We have until late April to resolve this issue.

State Employee Health Insurance
State Group Health Insurance is an interesting subject for a number of reasons. First, the PBA proposed no increases to the premiums and no change to the current offerings. Second, the Governor’s proposal does not increase premiums for single coverage and family coverage, but it eliminates the spousal program which affects roughly 1,500 of our members. Finally, there is a legislative proposal that could potentially add many more options for the membership to bargain over.

Our top priority for this session is to keep the premium costs under control and keep the spousal program in place.

However, we should be working to bring in more options to bargain over in future years. We have no leverage at the table on this issue. Our position could be dramatically improved if we could “wheel and deal” on multiple coverage options.

The Legislature has not raised premiums on the active employees for twelve years (how much longer do we honestly believe that will last?), but the retirees have taken a yearly hit. Although active employees have not seen a premium increase, the state has absorbed double digit increases to its share of the health insurance premium each year. Simply hoping for no increases to the employee premiums is not a great strategy. We need to be able to bargain on more options to keep the costs reasonable while maintaining high quality coverage.

We are supporting HB 7007 by Representative Jason Brodeur which gives the state and its employees many more options to bargain over in the coming years.

PBA Executive Director Matt Puckett testified in support of this legislation on Wednesday.

Florida Retirement System
There are multiple bills to keep tabs on this session, but nothing of real consequence moved this week. We are waiting for the actuarial studies on the reinstatement of the COLA to be completed. Stay tuned.

Local Pension Plans
HB 533 by Representative Janet Cruz concerning changes to the Tampa pension plan received a hearing in the House’s Local, Federal & Veteran Affairs Committee. It passed unanimously. The plan is a special act requiring legislative approval to the changes from the latest round of collective bargaining. PBA Lobbyist Gary Bradford attended the meeting to monitor the bill’s progress.

Body Camera Review
SB 624 by Senator Greg Steube received a hearing this week in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The bill will allow a law enforcement officer to review the footage from his or her camera prior to writing a report, or making a statement about an incident arising from his or her official duties. PBA Executive Director Matt Puckett testified in support of the legislation while also receiving some very pointed questions about the bill’s intentions. There are a couple of legislators who believe allowing an officer to review the footage opens the door to misuse and, perhaps, abuse. The bill passed the committee unanimously, but it was a controversial hearing. Stay tuned.

The “Sheriffs Should be Elected” Bill
HJR 721 by Representative Jason Fischer also received a hearing this week in the House’s Local, Federal & Veteran Affairs Committee. In a nutshell, this legislation will place a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring that all sheriffs must be elected. Only Dade County has an appointed public safety director instead of elected sheriff. PBA President John Rivera testified in support of the legislation which was opposed by Dade and Broward Counties. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

Public Records Exemption for a Witness to a Murder
Both bills ( SB 550 and HB 111) received hearings this week. The legislation will exempt from the public record a murder witness’ personal information from the public’s view for two years. PBA testified in support of the legislation. Both bills passed.

Please join me in thanking Nikki Sears, Paul Villaverde, PBA President John Rivera, Rod Skirvin, Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano, Tom Tiberio, Jim Baiardi and Brittany Wellborn for joining us in Tallahassee this week.

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