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The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Ending Feb. 9

The halfway mark of the 2018 Legislative Session has arrived.

The major event of the week was the separate passages of the 2018-19 spending plans. As a state, Florida is now operating in the $80 billion range and, with these two proposals, we will be reaching and then eclipsing $87 Billion. Hard to believe.

The House and Senate have several areas of disagreement between the two spending plans. K-12 Education, Higher Education, Environmental, Health Care and Corrections are all areas where the plans diverge widely. The showdown over K-12 Education could prove to be quite a battle during the session’s second half. Monstrous battles over big spending items can suck the air out of the room. This leaves other issues as after thoughts. Our lobbying job will require constant contact with the legislative deciders in order to keep our issues “in play.”

Let’s review what remains “in play” at the halfway point of the session.

From a spending plan standpoint, PBA bargaining units are in at least one budget proposal … in some cases both proposals. That means pay raises are “in play” for the negotiations between the House and Senate.

The COLA legislation passed through a single Senate committee and it was workshopped in a House committee. That probably puts the issue “in play” to get funding for a special impact study which is a constitutional requirement for any benefit enhancement. If this COLA study occurs, we may have the opportunity to add in estimating the costs to reverse the age and years of service requirements for FRS employees hired after July 1, 2011. Getting an actuary to study the costs of both ideas in one study is “in play.”

The PTSD legislation has been heard in committees of both the House and the Senate thereby placing this issue in a position to pass by the end of session.

Both local pension bills are ready to be heard on the House floor. The process for local bills happens later in the session when the chambers follow a consent procedure. This procedure allows them to roll through multiple local bills in a short amount of time. The local pension bills seem to be on track to pass.

The electronic threats bill and the toll exemption for unmarked LEO vehicles are “in play” to pass this session, too. We had to amend the toll exemption bill onto another item (SB 1012) to get the issue moving in the Senate, but that is not uncommon.

Politics and legislating any issue can often be a struggle. Lobbying can be intense. It takes a strategy. PBA has put in a strategic plan for every issue that was mentioned up above and for several that are not being mentioned.

One key component of our strategy is to help elect supporters/allies of Law Enforcement, Correctional and Probation Officers and their families to important positions within our state. To facilitate building up our allies, PBA leaders met with multiple statewide candidates this week and outlined to them the hopes, dreams and struggles for officers and their families. We were impressed by each candidate.

There are 28 days left.

Thank you to everyone who lobbied with us this week:

Florida PBA President John Rivera, Senior Vice President Dick Brickman, Treasurer Ernie George, Vice President John “Kaz” Kazanjian, Vice President Mick McHale and Sergeant at Arms Jeff Marano

Broward County PBA Vice President Rod Shirvin

FHP Chapter President Bill Smith

Correctional Probation Officers Trusteeship Tony Highsmith

Florida PBA Update On Our Hurricane Irma Recovery Efforts

This is not designed to brag about our efforts to assist our membership during the recovery. Although, what we have seen from everyone is overwhelmingly impressive and a testament to the unity of our association.

As you know, the entire southern portion of the state was hammered by Hurricane Irma and the storm caused major flooding all the way up into the Northeast.

By Monday evening, September 11, the storm was in Georgia so much of the state was experiencing evening sunshine, but no power, severe damage and toxic flood waters. John Rivera and his team were already in the field performing clean up for members. Clearing driveways of down trees, cutting trees off of roofs and shuttling food and supplies.

By Tuesday, our entire team in south Florida was performing clean up, providing food and water, along with securing food for the officers working extensive shifts. A team moved in from the Tampa Bay area to assist the Southwest portion of the state.

By Wednesday, a team led by Brittney Welborn carried fuel, food and supplies to our correctional officers in the “iron triangle” who were without power and experiencing a rising flood of water. Jim Baiardi led the efforts in the South to fed every correctional institution.

On Thursday, the cavalry was in full motion. Gary Bradford, Abe Carmack and George Lofton had secured commitments from Publix and Walmart to bring in two truckloads of supplies for South Florida. Tampa PBA had already brought a shipment of food for the Fort Myers area and Matt Sellers was coordinating efforts to feed over 100 troopers in the field who had not been fed in nearly two days. Mick McHale had his contacts in New York hauling in a load from the North all the way down to “the Keys” but they were stuck in Jacksonville so Kim Kilpatrick of Coastal PBA got a team from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office together to secure the supplies and make the remainder of the trip.

Friday saw the first shipment from Tampa come into South Florida and the amount was so massive that the supplies were allowed to travel all the way down to mile marker 48. John and his team were feeding over 1,800 officers during the day. Jimmy and Brittney continued to feed correctional officer while power was being restored and the flood waters were receding.

On Saturday, the New York supplies arrived via Coastal Florida PBA. Followed by another shipment from Tampa Bay via George Lofton and Suncoast PBA on Monday.

In just a few days following a major disaster, the Florida PBA with all its chapters and charters and its partners like Publix, Walmart and our friends from New York answered the call.

I am honestly awed by how generous and compassionate everyone has been.

God Bless you,

Matt Puckett
Executive Director
Florida Police Benevolent Association

BCPBA IS ASKING FOR DONATIONS TO AID HOUSTON AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT

With the effects of Hurricane Harvey ravaging the city of Houston, several law enforcement officers have lost their homes and possessions, yet they are still out on the streets serving the Houston community without going home.

Through the website, AssistTheOfficer.com, donations are currently being accepted to help these men and women who are putting the needs of their community before their own.

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association is making a donation to this cause and is asking its members and supporters to aid these Houston area law enforcement officers who have suffered from the severe flooding as well.

Donations can be made online by clicking here or mailed to:

Assist the Officer
FBO Harvey Relief
1600 State Street
Houston, TX 77007

Broward County PBA Awards Annual Scholarships

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (BCPBA) presented awards to the winners of its annual college scholarship essay contest at the quarterly board of directors meeting held on June 29, 2017.

The organization awarded top scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year to five students of the organization’s law enforcement members. The essay question for the applicants was, “With the growing number of protests and demonstrations occurring lately around the country, how do you think law enforcement can effectively balance freedom of speech with public safety concerns?”

This year’s first place winner is Emily Shimpeno of Pembroke Pines. Emily received a $1,200 scholarship, which will be applied toward her education at Florida Gulf Coast University. The first place scholarship was sponsored by Matthew Oppedisano of the Wellington, Florida-based Law Enforcement Retirement Advisory Service.

The second place winner was Tyler Ray of Pompano Beach. Tyler received a $600 scholarship, which will be applied toward his education at Mary Washington University.

The remaining winners each received scholarships in the amount $500 from the Broward County PBA.

The third place recipient was Caroline Volpe of Boca Raton. Caroline will be continuing her education at Tallahassee Community College and then Florida State University. Ivanna Cerna of Pembroke Pines earned the fourth place award, and will be attending Broward College. The fifth place winner was Nicole Pardon of Coconut Creek. Nicole will be attending Florida State University.

The Broward County PBA Annual Scholarship Award was founded in 2003 as part of The HOPE Fund’s mission to assist the children of law enforcement members in their effort to attend college. To be eligible for the scholarship, participants must be the son or daughter of a Broward County PBA member in good standing and plan to be a part-time or full-time student at an accredited two- or four-year university.

BCPBA Requests Broward Health Install BDAs In All Hospitals

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association today formally requested that Broward Health begin installing bi-directional amplifiers in all of its hospitals to improve radio communications for law enforcement officers. These amplifiers will strengthen the officer’s radio signal and allow communication to penetrate the building’s construction.

The installation of bi-directional amplifiers is not just a safety issue for law enforcement officers, but for firefighters, EMS and medical personnel, patients and visitors as well. If an incident were to take place in one of these facilities, not just with an in-custody individual, but for those who are Baker- and Marchman-acted as well, any call for assistance will not be heard.

This is an extremely important issue to the Broward County PBA because it involves the safety and protection of law enforcement officers, which we represent over 1,700 throughout Broward County and its municipalities.

Below is our letter to the Broward Health Board Of Commissioners formally requesting the installation of bi-directional amplifiers.

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

Telephone: (954) 584-7600
Fax: (954) 583-0405

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