It Was A Good Week For The PBA As Three Of Our Bills Passed

We passed three bills and made some progress with the budget leadership this week. Overall, Florida PBA had a good showing.

Please join me in thanking everyone who joined us in Tallahassee – President John “Kaz” Kazanjian, Palm Beach County PBA Treasurer Lou Penque, Palm Beach County PBA VP Rick McAfee, Senior VP Mick McHale, VP Jim Baiardi, VP Bill Smith, VP Steve Slade, CPO Treasurer Tony Highsmith, CPO Bill Clay along with Lobbyists Gary Bradford and Ken Kopczynski.

There are only three weeks left. Please read the summaries below –

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 HB 5001 does not include pay raises for any of our bargaining unit members.

Conference committee meetings are expected to start next week.

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

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters unanimously passed Senate Government Oversight & Accountability on Wednesday. 

The legislation was amended to fit the impact study results for a 2% COLA floor for all special risk members hired prior to July 1, 2011 and then retire as a special risk member after July 1, 2011. The language will not lower your COLA calculation if you are currently receiving more than 2% in retirement. 

You can watch the committee meeting here – our portion begins at the four minute mark. 

Based on the study, a 2% COLA floor will require a $113 million impact to this year’s budget although most of the impact is on counties with the state’s impact set at $24 million.

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 unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. You should watch our sponsor present the bill during the committee at the 38 minute mark.

HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee.

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.

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 us if there’s a question about something that we did, or did not cover.

Just Four Weeks Remain In The 2019 Legislative Session

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.

The Intensity Of The Legislative Session Is Now In High Gear

The official budget proposals from both chambers have been formally presented to the respective Appropriations Committees.

The intensity of the session is now in high gear.

The Appropriations Committees (Budget) overwhelming approved their proposals and the bills will be sent to the floor of each chamber. By design the two budgets will not match up which forces a conference committee to work out the differences. The final conference committee report (all differences resolved) must be approved by both chambers before the budget can be sent to the Governor. This happens every session and it is the only constitutionally required task of the Legislature.

There are still five weeks of session left to resolve all of our agenda items. Some issues have progressed nicely while others have work left to do.

One issue in particular that did not catch on with the Legislature this session is restoring the age to 55 and years of service to 25 for Special Risk employees hired after July 1, 2011. We need to educate all the new legislators on the original 25 years and age 55 model. Also a legislator, or two must become our champion for this issue so we can truly begin to advance it beyond just the conceptual phase.

Perhaps a different approach to the years of service and DROP will be necessary like creating a “Back DROP” or a “PLOP”, but those concepts will also require more legislative education. Like I discussed in a previous Capitol Report, the local plans have provided different pathways for us to explore.

We had another great team in Tallahassee this week, please join me in thanking them before reading through the briefs – Southwest President Mick McHale, Tampa President Abe Carmack, Corrections President Jimmy Baiardi, FHP President Bill Smith, Probation President Tammy Marcus, Dade President Steadman Stahl, Lobbyist Gary Bradford, Lobbyist Ken Kopczynski and PBA General Counsel Stephanie Webster.

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 .

Our lobbyists are working to keep the Senate raises for Probation, ISS and FHP, plus include Correctional Officers, FDLE Special Agents and State Law Enforcement Officers in the final conference committee report.

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons
This Legislation will create a COLA floor of no less than 2% for all Special Risk Employees hired prior to July 1, 2011. The legislation requires a special impact study in order to become law.

The study is due by April 2, 2019.

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 passed the Monday, March 17th Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing by unanimous vote (4-0).

HB 1021 by Representative Chris Latvala passed the House Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday, March 25th by unanimous vote.

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.

SB 76 by Senator Wilton Simpson passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, March 24th by unanimous vote.

HB 107 by Representatives Jackie Toledo and Emily Slosberg passed the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, March 25th by unanimous vote .

HB 1007 by Representative Stan McClain
This legislation will allow peer to peer counseling confidentially for first responders in order to help address the mental health crisis gripping our public safety officers. We give a special thanks to Marion County Sergeant George Wallace for proposing this idea to Representative McClain.

The bill passed the House Civil Justice Committee on Monday, March 25th 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 us if there’s a question about something that we did, or did not cover.

Six Weeks Remaining & Things Are Getting Serious

We have reached the point in the Legislative Session when you need to be able to articulate your point on a subject in under 60 seconds. A long meeting with a legislator is five minutes . . . ten if you are a local constituent. We are one third of the way through this session, so the timelines are tightening for legislation to receive hearings which means “bills are dying.”

Perhaps you cannot judge it from these weekly briefings, or our public testimony, but we can really expound on all of our issues when given the opportunity. The time for expounding, though, has passed.

Remember a few weeks ago, every Capitol Report article was about the meetings we were having with key Legislators. Those meetings were laying the groundwork for now and into the last two thirds of the session when time is not on our side.

Our early discussions about our priorities have turned into talking points.

We have to transform a weighty topic like the need for agency specific career development plans into a sixty second riff that uses key phrases. These key phrases are what we continue lobbying into the minds of legislators. By the end of session, if we harped on a topic thoroughly, all a legislator should have to do is see one of our lobbyists and our issues should come to mind. Although, that will not prevent us from reminding them again.

Before you read the briefs, please join me in thanking everyone who joined the team in Tallahassee this week – SCO President Jimmy Baiardi, Treasurer John Rivera, VP of Charters Jeff Marano, SunCoast President George Lofton, SunCoast Executive Director Michael Krohn, VP of Legislation Bill Smith, Probation VP Anna Jackson, Probation Representative Crystal Summerlin, Dade President Steadman Stahl, Dade Executive VP John Jenkins, along with Correctional Officers Scott Torres, Danny Witt, Justin Sizemore, Samantha Sibley, Amanda Pepin, and Steve Pepin.

Also, I personally thank Gary Bradford, Ken Kopczynski, Al Shopp, Mario Theodore, Gina Deering, Laura Spraker, Sherry Hannon, Bob Peterson, Mark Bartell, Debbie Tully, Inga Ingolfsson, and Jim Spearing for smoothly maneuvering through all of the moving parts of this particular week. I am proud to be part of such a great team.

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 released its first budget proposal this morning SB 2500. There are pay raises in the Senate proposal 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.
  3. The Florida Highway Patrol will receive a 3% special pay adjustment to the base rate of pay.

The House does not pay raises for any of our bargaining unit members as of yet.

We have a great deal of lobbying left to do before the final budget is approved and sent to the Governor in early May.

Our lobbying tasks ahead – 1) keep what we have and; 2) add in all of the other bargaining unit members not included in this first round.

There are six weeks left.

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons
This Legislation will create a COLA floor of no less than 2% for all Special Risk Employees hired prior to July 1, 2011. The legislation requires a special impact study in order to become law.

We learned that the study will be complete by April 2, 2019.

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 passed the Monday, Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing by a unanimous vote (4-0). We are hopeful to receive a hearing on HB 1021 in the House Criminal Justice Committee next week.

SB 76 by Senator Wilton Simpson and HB 45 or 107 by Representatives Emily Slosberg and Jackie Toledo
This Legislation will attempt to make distracted driving, or, at a minimum, texting while driving a primary traffic offense. Our organization has been involved with this legislation for multiple years now.

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 us if there’s a question about something that we did, or did not cover.

The Legislative Session Continues, And The PBA Has Been Very Busy

Two years ago (right after passage of the omnibus pension bill), a fellow labor friend and I were discussing what the changes in the bill meant to the larger scheme of things. Specifically, we wondered if exempting newly hired special risk employees from defaulting into the investment plan (which we were able to do) was the “beginning of the end” or the “end of the beginning”. The answer remains to be seen, but may slowly be coming into focus.

There are two competing thoughts on this subject. The first believes we are all in this together and exemptions between the employee classes (like defaulting into the investment plan for non-special risk new hires) will eventually catch up with everyone. The other believes special risk employees can separate from the rest of the employee classes and continue to thrive. The municipal systems have done this for years.

We will likely learn which school of thought is correct over the next decade.

How we negotiate through this forth coming period will determine much of the outcome, but a portion (perhaps a sizable portion) will be decided by the luck of the economy. The old compensation systems are falling out of favor with the public. Salaries, pensions and retiree health insurance are the biggest costs to any agency and during a recession the public can be persuaded, because of envy, to turn against you. When a bad economy strikes, the target on your compensation grows larger.

To avoid the backlash, we must think of better ways to pay for the benefits and the methods of delivery. The systems are undergoing changes because of demographics and attrition. There are a large number of innovative road maps at the local level and from other states to show us how to precede; therefore, we must be willing to try out new ideas.

And that’s exactly what we will do. This year, in our opinion, is another step on a new path. A lot of our ideas are at the moment, just that… ideas, but as we explore and work with our allies much of what we want to accomplish will materialize into legislation.

If you have an idea that you think we should hear please email me, or local representative.

Please join me in thanking everyone who joined the lobbying team in Tallahassee this week – President John Kazanjian, Broward County President Rod Skirvin, SCO President Jimmy Baiardi, CPO Treasurer Tony Highsmith, Palm Beach County Treasurer Lou Penque, Dade County Executive Vice President John Jenkins, Dade County Treasurer Nazim Ishmael, Dade County Representative Darryl Hall, Dade County Executive Director Steve Shiver along with Correctional Officers Scott Torres, Samantha Sibley, Amanda Pepin, Steven Pepin, Adam Maxwell and Sean Crawford

Here’s where we are as of today… in no particular order.

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

We continue to negotiation with the Department of Management Services over our contract re-openers with all of our state bargaining units. On Monday, we testified before the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining please skip to 1:16:46 to watch our testimony, or you can watch the whole meeting.

SB 784 by Senator Joe Gruters and HB 779 by Representative Chuck Clemons
This Legislation will create a COLA floor of no less than 2% for all Special Risk Employees hired prior to July 1, 2011. The legislation requires a special impact study in order to become law. Our study request was submitted to the Division of Retirement. We are now waiting for the results to come back to us. Remember this legislation is designed to stop the bleeding.

SB 920 by Senator Jason Pizzo and HB 1021 by Representatives 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 will receive a hearing on Monday, March 18 in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

SB 76 by Senator Wilton Simpson and HB 45 or 107 by Representatives Emily Slosberg and Jackie Toledo
This Legislation will attempt to make distracted driving, or, at a minimum, texting while driving a primary traffic offense. Our organization has been involved with this legislation for multiple years now.

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 the PBA if there’s a question about something that we did, or did not cover.