The House and Senate are ready to begin the hard part of the session – finishing a budget. Both chambers took up their budget proposals this week and then agreed to disagree over how to fund the state of Florida. In a typical procedural maneuver, the House took up the Senate proposals one by one; striped out the Senate’s appropriations; and inserted the House positions as replacements. The Senate did not concur with this action, which is usual, and we are heading to conference committee.

The conference committee period will be proceeded by an unofficial back and forth negotiation between the chambers on spending priorities . . . meaning when the conference committees publicly meet an agreement will be close to finalized. 

At this point, we have four weeks left. 

Dade County Days were last week and we had a great group from Miami in town with us. President Steadman Stahl, Executive VP John Jenkins, VP David Greenwood, Secretary Mary Ann Stahl, Attorney Joe Bober, General Counsel Andrew Axelrad, and Executive Director Steve Shiver were all in town representing the PBA from Miami. They helped kick off Senator Lauren Book’s 42 hours for 42 million and followed that up by serving paella to the masses. 

They were joined by Senior VP Mick McHale, VP Jim Baiardi, CPO President Tammy Marcus, CPO VP Anna Jackson, along with Lobbyists Gary Bradford and Ken Kopczynski.

Here’s where we are as of today.

Pay raises for State Law Enforcement Officers, Lottery Law Enforcement Officers, FDLE Special Agents, Florida Highway Patrol, Correctional Probation Officers, and Correctional Officers

The Senate budget proposal SB 2500 includes pay raises for three groups of our bargaining unit members: 

1) Correctional Probation Officers to receive a $2,500 to the base rate of pay.

2) Institutional Security Specialists to receive $2,500 to the base rate of pay. Institutional Security Specialists are certified Correctional Officers who work for the Department of Children & Families and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

3) The Florida Highway Patrol will receive a 3% special pay adjustment to the base rate of pay. 

The House budget proposal APC 1 does not include pay raises for any of our bargaining unit members .

As previously stated, the budget is headed for conference committee. We have to keep what we have in the budget for the Probation Officers, Institutional Security Specialists and FHP plus add in all we need for Correctional Officers, State Law Enforcement Officers and FDLE Special Agents. Senator Rob Bradley made multiple mentions to pay raises during his floor comments. We still have an opening to make this happen with four weeks to go.

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons

The study is back. The actuary looked at creating two different versions of a COLA floor. Version I is creating a floor at 2%.  Version II creates a 1.5% floor. 

Based on the study, Version I will require a $118 million impact to this year’s budget although most of the impact is on counties with the state’s impact set at $24 million.

Version II will require a $59 million impact to this year’s budget with $12.4 million required from state coffers.

SB 784 is on the agenda in the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability next Wednesday.

SB 920 by Senator Jason Pizzo and HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala

The idea is to help speed up the process for an arrest of a DNA match. Current law, requires a search warrant to collect a buccal swab of a person who matches a crime scene sample and an offender profile in CODIS. This step was added because sample collections are performed by humans and humans make mistakes. However, we strongly believe that a warrant for arrest should be an option available to a judge when a CODIS match is found.

SB 920 by Senator Jason Pizzo is on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Monday agenda. 

HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for next Tuesday.

SB 76 by Senator Wilton Simpson and HB 45 or 107 by Representatives Emily Slosberg and Jackie Toledo

The legislation will make texting while driving, or, perhaps even, distracted driving a primary traffic offense. The question over whether this offense should be texting while driving, or distracted driving is dividing the Legislature.

HB 107 by Representatives Jackie Toledo and Emily Slosberg passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, April 4th by unanimous vote .

Criminal Justice

We continue to be involved in the debate around criminal justice reform. The Senate is conducting a full scale review of our sentencing laws to specifically include minimum mandatory sentences for drug offenses, along incarceration models and diversion programs. 

Other Issues

We are also working with other special interests groups on an array of issues during this session.  You can always contact me if there’s a question about something that I did, or did not cover.