Archive for the Legislative Updates Category

BCCPA January Legislative Update

There are several new laws and amended laws on the books for 2016 that all law enforcement officers should be aware of. They include open carrying of a weapon, discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood, expunction of records of minors, justifiable use or threatened use of defensive force, medical marijuana, forfeiture of contraband and concealed weapon or firearm licenses. A summary of each is below.

SB 300 – Open Carrying of a Weapon

Introducer(s): Senator Don Gaetz
Related Bills(s): HB 163 (In Judiciary, 11/24/15. Next meeting 1/11/15)

Last Action: Referred to Judiciary Committee, 10/23/15 (Next meeting 1/12/15)
Effective Date: Upon becoming law

Bill amends F.S. 790 053, to permit the open carrying of a weapon or firearm by a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. As of this date, the FPCA’s proposed amendments have not been incorporated into the bill.

SB 130 – Discharging a Firearm in Residential Areas

Introducer(s): Senator Garrett Richter
Related Bills(s): HB 41 (Passed all House Committees)

Last Action: Favorable vote in Fiscal Policy. Placed on calendar for 2nd reading on 11/19/15
Effective Date: Upon becoming law

Bill amends F.S. 790.15, to prohibit the discharge of a firearm outdoors in an area that the person knows, or reasonably should know, is primarily residential in nature and that has a residential density of one or more dwelling units per acre. A violation is a misdemeanor in the first degree.

Bill creates the following exemptions:

  • For an individual who is lawfully defending life or property
  • For discharging a firearm under circumstances where the discharge does not pose a reasonable foreseeable risk of life, safety, or property
  • For the accidental discharge of a firearm

SB 386 – Expunction of Records of Minors

Introducer(s): Senators Nancy Detert & Darren Soto
Related Bill(s): HB 147
Last Action: In Fiscal Policy Committee, 12/7/15
Effective Date: July 1, 2016

Bill amends F.S. 943.0515, to change the retention of juvenile offender records from 5 years after the minor reaches 19 years of age to 2 years, provided that certain statutory exceptions do not exist. (Person is 18 years old or older and is charged or convicted of a forcible felony or child has not been classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender.)

SB 344 – Justifiable Use or Threatened Use of Defensive Force

Introducer(s): Senator(s): Rob Bradley
Co-introducer(s): Senator(s): Charles Dean; Greg Evers; Aaron Bean; & Wilton Simpson

Related Bill(s): HB 169
Last Action: Placed on Calendar for 2nd reading on 12/7/15
Effective Date: Upon becoming law

Bill amends F.S. 776.032, to remove the burden of proof of self-defense from the individual asserting the defense. Once an individual asserts a prima facie case of self-defense, the State then has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is not entitled to dismissal of the charge on the grounds that he/she acted in self-defense.

The most recent version of the Bill removes the language which entitled a defendant who prevails during a motion to dismiss, to private attorney’s fees and costs for defending the criminal action.

SB 440 – Experimental Treatments for Terminal Conditions

Introducer(s): Senators Rob Bradley & Daren Soto
Related Bill(s): HB 307
Last Action: Fiscal Policy Committee, 12/7/15
Effective Date: 7/1/16

Bill amends F.S. 499.0295, to permit eligible patients or their representatives to purchase and possess cannabis for medical use. The cannabis must be purchased from an approved dispensing organization as defined by F.S. 381.986 (facility approved by the Dept. of Health).

SB 852 – Medical Marijuana

Introducer(s): Senator Jeff Brandes
Related Bill(s): SB 616 & HB 4021
Last Action Referred to Regulated Industries and Health Policy Committees, 12/3/15
Effective Date: 7/1/16

Bill repeals the “Compassionate Use of Low-THC Cannabis Act and creates F.S. 381.99 (Florida Medical Marijuana Act”). The Bill authorizes a registered patient or a designated caregiver to purchase, acquire, and possess up to the allowed amount of medical marijuana for a patient’s medical use. To qualify for the Act, a registered patient or a designated caregiver must demonstrate that they have been diagnosed with one of the listed infirmities and manifest specific listed symptoms from the infirmity. The Bill also requires that the Dept. of Health notify law enforcement of the expiration or cancellation of an identification card.

SB 1044 – Forfeiture of Contraband

Introducer(s): Senators Jeff Brandes & Joe Negron
Related Bill(s): HB 0883
Last Action: Referred to Criminal Justice and Fiscal Committees and Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, 12/17/15
Effective Date: 7/1/16

The Bill amends F.S. 932.703, to bestow upon the law enforcement agency “provisional title” to seized property upon a finding of probable cause for the seizure. The Bill then requires that the property owner be convicted of the charges supporting the forfeiture before title to the property passes to the agency. Additionally, the law enforcement agency is financially responsible to the property owner for any damage, storage fees, and any other related applicable costs, if the owner is acquitted of the charges or the charges are nolle prosed or dismissed by the court.

SB 1140 – Concealed Weapon or Firearm Licenses

Introducer(s): Senator Dwight Bullard
Related Bill(s): HB 0935
Last Action: Filed 12/15/15
Effective Date: 7/1/16

Bill requires a concealed weapon or firearm licensee to inform a first responder that they are in possession of a weapon or firearm, and display both the license and proper identification upon demand of the first responder. Failure to provide such notification is a non-criminal infraction which carries a $1,000.00 fine payable to the clerk of court. Additionally, any subsequent violation of this section would mandate a suspension or revocation of one’s license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm.

PBA’s Step Pay Plan Legislation Is Officially Filed

PBA’s Step Pay Plan Legislation Is Officially Filed

By Matt Puckett
Executive Director, Florida PBA

We are happy to announce that Florida House Representative Dave Kerner has filed HB 621 on our behalf creating a step plan for all First Responders employed by state government. The plan creates a career development path for First Responders. The Legislation does not specify any particular type of career plan. Instead it will be up to each bargaining unit (if applicable) and agency to negotiate a career plan … this law will only mandate that one shall exist for First Responders.

The PBA has also indicated to the Department of Management Services that we intend to submit career plan proposals to each respective agency during upcoming negotiations. These proposals will have the fiscal impacts attached and are intended to be used in conjunction with Representative Kerner’s career development legislation. We will actively pursue both the career plan legislation and our proposals for step plans during the upcoming 2016 Legislative Session.

Until next time, stay safe.

PBA Lobbyists Meet With Senate President Andy Gardiner

pba-lobbyist-11062015

We are in the final week of the THIRD special session of 2015. The Legislature spent the week balancing a redrawing of the Florida Senate districts with interim committee meetings. Our legislative agenda saw a very limited amount of activity this week, but we were able to sit with Senate President Andy Gardiner.

Our conversation with President Gardiner touched on all of our agenda items. We talked at length about raises for our state employee bargaining unit members along with the creation of a career development plan for all first responders employed by state agencies. The President took time to emphasize his support for increasing the special risk death benefits legislation currently working its way through both chambers. We agreed to keep him in the loop on our issues as they progress through the process. We are grateful for his time and attention especially considering the difficulties surrounding the special session. Our plan is to have a follow up meeting with him and his staff midway through the regular session.

Now that we have met with both presiding officers, we will schedule meetings with the appropriations chairmen and staff, individual legislators and the executive office.

Also please note, we met with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam last week to discuss our legislative agenda. He was gracious with his time and expressed an interest in several of our issues.

We still have a long ways to go. Many of issues are still in bill drafting so we hope by next committee week to have a list of all of our bills and sponsors.

We supported HB 93 in Wednesday’s House Criminal Justice committee. This legislation which attempts to create statewide guidelines for use of body cameras is a repeat effort from last session. The bill does not mandate body cameras. It simply sets minimum standards for policy and requires proper training of all personnel prior to implementation in an agency. The bill passed the committee by a 13 – 0 vote.

Finally, thank you to everyone who took our legislative survey this past week. We received a lot of valuable information and we will use it as a guide to our approach this session.

Until next time, stay safe.

Matt Puckett
Executive Director
Florida PBA

Florida PBA’s Capitol Report: Legislative Accomplishments

2015 Regular Session

– The Florida PBA was able to pass three agenda items and receive final approval from Governor Rick Scott.

– A special session to address the state’s budget will begin next week. PBA lobbyists have spent time with legislative staff and key legislators discussing our priorities for the special session. We are hopeful that our impasse issues over wages and special compensatory time for our four state bargaining units will be satisfactorily addressed.

– Below you will find articles summarizing the three PBA agenda items passed into law.

As always, stay safe.

SB 172 Local Pension Plans

Our sponsors Representative Travis Cummings, Senator Rob Bradley and Senator Jeremy Ring are to be commended for seeing this issue to the end. We are also thankful to Senate President Andy Gardiner, Speaker of the House of Representatives Steve Crisafulli, Senator Don Gaetz, Representative Matt Caldwell and Representative Dana Young for their support.

Finally, Governor Rick Scott’s decision to sign this legislation is much appreciated. We know many city managers that do not like this new legislation and they, along with others, put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Governor to veto it.

Here are some of the major SB 172 changes:

A)Through the use of mutual consent, a city and police officers can continue to operate with the same pension plan and premium tax use arrangement currently offered. The legislation WILL NOT require any changes to your pension benefits, or your allocation of premium tax monies.

B)The minimum accrual rate in statute was raised to 2.75 (the multiplier) from the previous minimum accrual rate of 2.0. Please note – this change will not automatically reduce your current accrual rate. This change simply prevents a city from cutting your accrual rate below 2.75 in the event your accrual rate is lowered by contract.

C)The legislation creates a defined contribution component (also referred to as a supplemental plan) to your pension. The DC component is only required to be created and does not require funding unless you negotiate to fund it. The DC component will not accrue unfunded actuarial liability.

D)The legislation requires all pension benefits must be at or above the statutory minimum benefit levels to receive premium tax monies. This erases the Naples Interpretation which allowed levels to drop below the statutory minimums.

E)The legislation establishes a so-called default position that divides premium tax monies in half between the DC component and the pension benefits if the mutual consent provision noted in A) is not reached.

Further explanation – if mutual consent between the officers and the cities is not reached, the statute will divide new premium money in half. Placing half of the new money into the DC component and the other half will be used to pay for previous benefits.

Example – A city receives an increase of $30,000 in premium tax monies for a tax year, but cannot reach mutual consent on the use of the new money. The $30,000 will be divided and $15,000 will be used to help pay for existing plan benefits with the other $15,000 being placed into the DC component.

F) It also provides the ability to lower benefits to no less than the minimum benefit levels and still receive premium tax monies.

Further explanation – if mutual consent is not reached and benefits are restructured (think lowered) the levels cannot go below the statutorily required minimums. The freed up premium tax money is divided in half according to the previous schedule outlined in E).

Example – A city reduces pension benefits and frees up $30,000 in premium tax monies previously allocated to pension benefits. The $30,000 will be divided in half and $15,000 will pay for the reduced pension benefits with the remaining $15,000 being placed into the DC component.

SB 248 Law Enforcement Officer Body Cameras

We owe a special thanks to Senator Chris Smith and Representative Shevrin Jones for the creation of this new law. This issue was controversial because of some the limitations it places on public access to body camera footage. These two Legislators did not buckle to the pressure from the First Amendment Foundation, the ACLU and numerous media outlets. We thank them for standing firm on privacy concerns.

The following exemptions are contained in the legislation:

– Is taken within the interior of a private residence;

– Is taken on the property of a facility that offers health care, mental health care, or social services;

– Is taken at a place where a person recorded or depicted in the recording has a reasonable expectation of privacy;

If the audio or video recording or a portion of such recording is exempt or confidential and exempt pursuant to another exemption in s. 119.071, F.S., that exemption applies and determines under which circumstances, if any, the recording or a portion of the recording may be disclosed to the public.

The exemption is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act and stands repealed on October 2, 2020, unless reviewed and saved from repeal though reenactment by the Legislature. The bill also provides a statement of public necessity for the exemption.

The bill authorizes the law enforcement agency having custody over the recording to disclose the recording to another law enforcement agency in furtherance of that agency’s official duties and responsibilities and specifies persons who may inspect the recording.

Applicable to the new exemption, a law enforcement agency must have a retention policy of at least 90 days for the audio or video recordings unless the recording is part of an active criminal investigation or criminal intelligence operation or a court orders its retention for a longer period. A law enforcement agency must disclose its records retention policy for recordings under the new exemption.

SB 264 Banning Traffic Citation Quotas

More thanks to Senator Rob Bradley for this legislation. Also a big thank you to Representative Ray Rodriguez for passage of this new law. Agencies in certain areas have used citations as a way to evaluate officers and pad the coffers. This practice breeds contempt for law enforcement and hopefully this law will deter quotas for good.

Simple stated, the legislation puts an end to traffic citation quota schemes at the local level. Additionally, a city or a county agency that generates more than 33% of revenue from traffic citations will be subject to a legislative audit which could lead to any number of sanctions.

A Serious Liability for Law Enforcement Officers Wearing Body Worn Cameras

The 2015 Legislative Session ended on Friday, May 1, 2015 without finishing the law enforcement officers’ body worn cameras legislative package.  The Legislature did pass the public records exemption legislation (SB 248), but the policy guidelines portion (HB 57 & SB 7080) of the package did not complete the legislative process.  The passage of the complete package was a priority for the Florida PBA, because each bill had critical components that protect law enforcement officers and the public from the possible unintended consequences that body worn camera recordings may pose.
SB 248 created the public records exemptions for body worn cameras.  This legislation was designed to deal with privacy concerns and, although the bill was the more controversial piece of the package, it completed the legislative process while the more benign legislation HB 57 & SB 7080 failed to pass.

The following exemptions are contained in the

SB 248 legislation:

– Is taken within the interior of a private residence;

– Is taken on the property of a facility that offers health care, mental health care, or social services;

– Is taken at a place where a person recorded or depicted in the recording has a reasonable expectation of privacy;

 

If the audio or video recording or a portion of such recording is exempt or confidential and exempt pursuant to another exemption in s. 119.071, F.S., that exemption applies and determines under which circumstances, if any, the recording or a portion of the recording may be disclosed to the public.

 

The exemption is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act and stands repealed on October 2, 2020, unless reviewed and saved from repeal though reenactment by the Legislature. The bill also provides a statement of public necessity for the exemption.

 

The bill authorizes the law enforcement agency having custody over the recording to disclose the recording to another law enforcement agency in furtherance of that agency’s official duties and responsibilities and specifies persons who may inspect the recording.

 

Applicable to the new exemption, a law enforcement agency must have a retention policy of at least 90 days for the audio or video recordings unless the recording is part of an active criminal investigation or criminal intelligence operation or a court orders its retention for a longer period. A law enforcement agency must disclose its records retention policy for recordings under the new exemption.

 

HB 57 & SB 7080 did not complete the process and therefore creates a serious situation for law enforcement officers wearing body cameras.

 

The legislation attempted to create a list of specific guidelines an agency’s policy must contain if choosing to implement body cameras.

 

– General guidelines for the proper use, maintenance, and storage of body cameras;

– Any limitations on which law enforcement officers are permitted to wear body cameras;

– Any limitations on the law enforcement activities and encounters in which law enforcement officers are permitted to wear body cameras; and

– General guidelines for the proper storage, retention, and release of audio and video data recorded by body cameras.

 

The bill requires law enforcement agencies to provide policies and procedures training to all personnel who use, maintain, store, or release body camera recording data.

 

The bill also exempted law enforcement agencies employing the use of body cameras from the chapter 934 two party consent requirements.

 

Background on Chapter 934, F.S.:

Chapter 934, F.S., governs the security of various types of communications in the State, and limits the ability to intercept, monitor, and record such communications. The Chapter provides for criminal penalties and civil remedies in circumstances where communications are intercepted in violation of Chapter 934, F.S. Additionally, s. 934.03(2)(d), F.S., creates the “two party consent rule,” which requires that all parties to a communication or conversation must consent to having the communication recorded before it can be done so legally. Chapter 934, F.S., provides a limited exception for law enforcement-related recordings when “such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception and the purpose of such interception is to obtain evidence of a criminal act.”

 

 

Just imagine attempting to gain consent from everyone in a crowd.

 

The Florida PBA strongly urges agencies to cease utilizing body worn cameras unless an acceptable alternative in lieu of the Chapter 934 exemption can be agreed to by all parties.  The potential for criminal and civil harm against law enforcement officers is too great to be ignored.

 

Written by Matt Puckett,  Executive Director , Florida Police Benevolent Association

 

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Broward County Police
Benevolent Association
2650 West State Road 84
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

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