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.