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.