Archive for the Capitol Report Category

Governor Scott Signs Two PBA Bills Into Law

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the PBA’s body camera review legislation and witness to a murder legislation into law.

HB 305 (sponsored by Senator Greg Steube and Representative Shawn Harrison) permits an officer who wears a body camera to review the footage prior to making a statement, or writing a report on an incident. The effective date is July 1, 2017.

HB 111 (sponsored by Senator Randolph Bracy and Representative Cynthia Stafford) prevents the identification of a murder witness from being available through a public record request for two years. The effective date is July 1, 2017.

We thank the Governor and our sponsors for their support.

As always, please stay safe.

The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Of May 1-5

The Legislature did not finish on time this year. Today is the official last day of session, there was a 72 hour extension to the end of session in order to complete the budgeting process. Although there are a few hours left before everything is officially over, we anticipate the following issues to be resolved in the manner listed below:

– Both local police pension bills for West Palm Beach HB 1135 and Tampa HB 535 have passed. The changes to these plans are the result of local collective bargaining changes and compliance with the statute changes of 2015.

– The Governor received the body camera footage review legislation HB 305 and has until Thursday, June 11th to act (sign, veto, or do nothing which allows it to become law). The legislation permits an officer who wears a body camera to review the footage prior to making a statement, or writing a report on an incident. The effective date is July 1, 2017.

– The witness to a murder legislation HB 111 and training for autism awareness HB 39 have both passed the Legislature. HB 111 has been presented to the Governor and, like HB 305, he has until Thursday to take an action. This legislation prevents the identification of a murder witness from being available through a public record for two years.

– Totally and permanently disabled first responders & surviving spouses of totally & permanently disabled first responders shall receive a 100% homestead tax exemption via HB 455.

– There will be no increase to the FRS employee contribution. I should probably mention there will not be a decrease either.

– The Florida Retirement System will be positively modified in two significant ways for special risk members, or their surviving family members. The provisions of SB 7022 pertaining to the Florida Retirement System are as follows:

1) Survivors of a special risk member killed in the line of duty on, or after July 1, 2002 will be able to receive 100% of the member’s salary at the time of death. This benefit was added during last year’s session, but the retroactivity only went back to September of 2013.

2) Florida Retirement System employees who were enrolled in the FRS investment plan then left FRS employment and took a cash payment from the investment plan will soon be able to re-enroll in the investment plan if they are reemployed by an FRS employer. This new reemployment provision only applies to former members of the investment plan at the time of separation and does not apply to retired members of the pension plan who are reemployed by a FRS employer. The effective date is July 1, 2017.

Current employees who were previously investment plan members and have been barred from participation since reemployment are eligible after July 1, 2017 to apply for re-enrollment in the investment plan.

The change allows the member to participate in the investment plan as a member of special risk if the member qualifies.

– There is one additional change to the Florida Retirement System that does not apply to special risk members. After January 1, 2018, all new non-special risk employees will have nine months to select either the investment plan, or the pension plan. If the employee fails to make an active selection following the nine month selection period that employee will be defaulted into the investment plan. The employee will still have a one time opportunity to select the pension plan at a later date in his, or her career.

All newly hired special risk employees will continue to default into pension plan even if they do not make an active selection within the first nine months of employment. The newly hired special risk employee will also still have a one time option to make a switch later in his, or her career.

– SB 7022 also creates the ability to actively select, or collectively bargain for more options to the State Group Health Insurance for state employees. The current insurance provisions will remain in place with additional options to come on line in later years. The options will be subject to approval by the Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House.

– Finally, SB 7022 provides pay increases to PBA’s state employee bargaining units in the following manner:

Effective July 1, 2017, there will be no increase to the employee’s Health Insurance premium.

On July 1, 2017, Law Enforcement Officers in the PBA’s Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, FDLE Special Agents and Lottery Law Enforcement bargaining units will receive a 5% increase to his, or her base rate of pay. These officers will not be eligible for the September 30, 2017 pay raise that other state employees will receive.

On September 30, 2017, All Correctional Probation Officers and Institutional Security Specialists will receive a base salary adjustment in the following manner:

a) Employees earning less than $40,000 per year of base salary will receive a $1,400 increase to his, or her base salary.

b) Employees earning more than $40,000 per year of base salary will receive a $1,000 increase to his, or her base salary.

On October 1, 2017, all Correctional Officers employed by the Florida Department of Corrections in the PBA’s Security Services bargaining unit will receive a $2,500 increase to his or her base rate of pay. These officers will not be eligible for the September 30, 2017 pay raise that other state employees will receive.

Additionally, the Department of Corrections has been awarded funding to adjust the minimum base salaries for the following class codes:

  • Correctional Officer (8003) to $33,500
  • Correctional Officer Sergeant (8005) to $36,850
  • Correctional Officer Lieutenant (8011) to $40,535
  • Correctional Officer Captain (8013) to $44,589

Correctional Officers below the new minimum base salary for the class code will receive the necessary salary adjustment to the new base amount even if the amount exceeds the $2,500.

The omnibus bill SB 7022 which dealt with FRS retirement, survivor death benefits, health insurance for state employees and pay raises for state employees is unique. The puzzle that was constructed in that legislation just goes to show how many issues the PBA was negotiating over at the end of this session. This particular bill also illustrates how every issue was leveraged against the other in order to complete a final deal.

Of course, we did not receive everything we set out to receive. Yet, we moved the needle in the right direction (in a few cases, the needle moved substantially) and did not lose any ground. We just did not get everything we wanted.

Here’s how long some of the issues in SB 7022 have been waiting to be resolved. The negotiations started in July of 2011 over the default change to the pension. The health insurance negotiations have been around since 2012. The death benefits and reemployment provisions have been in the negotiations, off and on, since 2013. And of course, we negotiated over the latest round of pay raises starting in 2016. Multiple years in many cases that all came together in one big bill SB 7022.

Considering how this 2017 version of the legislative session will finish, our team did a good job. Nobody, from the Governor on down, got everything they wanted.

There will be a four month break before the session starts all over again, PBA will be working on ideas to create a COLA reinstatement for FRS employees, along with redrafting legislation to double salary incentive monies and create a step plan for our state bargaining units. Not mention other issues that will be added to our agenda over the next four months.

As always, please stay safe.

The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Of April 24-28

The Legislature is finally conducting formal budget conferencing committee meetings. However, unlike most years, issues pertaining to us like pensions and pay raises have already been announced. Albeit without a whole lot of detail.

Here’s what we can say with certainty:

  • For the Florida Retirement System, there will be changes to the system, but nothing will change for Special Risk
  • Every State Employee is receiving a pay raise
  • Law Enforcement and Corrections will receive the largest pay raises

That’s all we officially know at the moment. The specifics are being withheld while budget conferencing progresses along. We have learned that until you actually see it in writing do not assume the deal is done.

So that means we have “Known Knowns” and “Known Unknowns” to paraphrase former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Our “Known Unknowns” are as follows:

  • How exactly Special Risk employees are unaffected by the FRS changes … we do know that Special Risk will not see changes
  • Also we do not know the final composition (meaning the amount and scope of employees included) in the Law Enforcement and Corrections pay raises… we do know that these employee groups are receiving the largest raises

As soon as we know specifics, we will share the details with you. Stay tuned to our emails over the weekend.

As always, please stay safe.

The Capitol Report For The Week Of April 17-21

Quick summary of events:

  • PBA’s Law Enforcement and Corrections Day at The Capitol
  • Body camera footage review legislation completes legislative process and is ready for the Governor’s signature
  • Budget negotiations are underway, but nothing has been agreed upon as of today

PBA State Law Enforcement and Corrections Day at The Capitol
During week seven of the session, PBA honored state law enforcement and corrections at The Capitol. Dozens of uniformed officers from all of the PBA’s statewide chapters joined the lobby team at The Capitol. The focus was securing a pay raise.

Pay Raises Proposals
The Senate and House must reach a single version of the budget before June 30. Negotiations are underway.

The proposed budget 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 in the 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

    The House proposal includes a $1,300 across the board pay raise for COs in all bargaining unit classes with no changes to the minimum class salaries.

    Correctional Probation Officers (all bargaining unit classes) and Institutional Security Specialists are only included in the across the board September 30 raise for all state employees in the Senate budget. PBA has asked that both officer groups be included in the correctional officers proposal for July 1, 2017. PBA lobbyists, CPO and ISS members met with multiple legislators, legislative leaders and Secretary Julie Jones to lobby for inclusion in the July 1 raise. The feedback we received is very encouraging.

    We are now in the budget negotiations process. This part of the session is always the most intense. PBA put a strong case forward for pay raises this year and our prospects look good. However, we still have two weeks left and the hard part will be keeping our patience.

    Body Camera Footage Review
    Senator Greg Steube passed HB 305/SB 624on the Senate floor. The legislation will allow an officer wearing a body camera to review the body camera footage prior to making a statement or writing a report about an incident. The legislation has been enrolled and will be sent to the Governor very soon.

    I thank everyone who travelled to help us with the PBA’s law enforcement and corrections day. It was a successful event. We appreciate your efforts as a recruiter for your agency and the generosity of your agency for allowing you to participate in uniform. We all made a great impression.

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.

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