Meetings are still the top order of business for our lobbying team. We had quite a few this week highlighted by a chance to sit and discuss our budget requests with both chambers’ appropriations chairmen (Senator Rob Bradley and Representative Travis Cummings). Two great friends of the Florida PBA who really understand our issues. Our priority was simple – PBA’s state bargaining unit employees need a raise.

A small team consisting of me, Executive Committee Vice President of Services Jim Baiardi, Business Director Al Shopp, General Counsel Stephanie Dobson Webster met with new Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon. We used the time together to discuss our priorities and hear about his plan to steer the department forward. We came away with a positive feeling about his core principles and beliefs. Let’s all move forward with him and his team to raise the morale and the salaries.

Both Florida Retirement System Cost of Living Adjustment bills are officially filed now. SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons will create a COLA floor of no less than 2% for all Special Risk Employees hired prior to July 1, 2011.

Our study request is scheduled to be discuss with legislative committee staff next week. Our proposed study request will look at a return of the COLA for all employees regardless of hire date and a retroactive return of the age and years of service requirements for all employees hired after July 1, 2011. This change will have a positive effect for every member including FRS investment plan members. As noted last week, the normal costs to the system will increase with any COLA and age enhancements which will increase the contribution into your investment account.

Our CODIS DNA proposal continues to gain support among legislators. Look for bills to appear over the next two weeks. The new language will allow a probable cause for arrest of an offender following a match of crime scene DNA to the offender profile in CODIS.

Florida PBA President John Kazanjian, VP of Services Jim Baiardi, VP of Legislative Services William Smith, General Counsel Stephanie Dobson Webster and I visited chapter meetings on Monday and Tuesday in the Central Florida PBA and Northwest Florida PBA Chapters. We appreciate the hospitality and the feedback we received from the members of Ocoee, Leesburg, Escambia County and Santa Rosa County, along with our Correctional Probation Officer Chapter.

Also big thanks to PBA lobbyists Gary Bradford and Ken Kopczynski for their hard work this week.