We Are Six Weeks Into The 2020 Legislative Session

We completed the sixth week of the 2020 Legislative Session, and the style of this session has been quite orderly. Both budgets have passed and are ready for conference negotiations (pay raises are still in both versions of the budget). The chambers are wrapping up the policy issues still in play (like our Bill of Rights legislation). Many subcommittees are either finished meeting, or heading into the last meeting of the session. To steal an analogy from PBA Lobbyist Ken Kopczynski, the ship is docking whether you’re ready for it, or not. Our team is ready and from looks of things so is everyone else.

The Bill of Rights legislation received another hearing in the Senate this week. The Senate Appropriations for Civil and Criminal Justice unanimously passed SB 884 by Senator Ed Hooper on Tuesday. The legislation was amended to match the House version HB 453 by Representative Wymann Duggan. The amended language adds part time officers and clarifies the definition of complaint to mean regardless of origin (internal or external) the investigation must be completed in 180 days. The Fraternal Order of Police (specifically Steve Zona and Lisa Henning) have been excellent partners with us on this legislation. We continue to work with Florida Police Chiefs’ Association on an amendment to the legislation which will allow a smaller agency of 35 officers or less to seek support from an outside agency when a conflict exists within the investigations’ division. The Appropriations Committee is next stop for the both bills.

Issues We Continue To Lobby For

Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers. The Senate and House released separate pay raise proposals at the end of the week. An agreement on wages must be reached before March 13th.

Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension for Special Risk Members hired prior to July 1, 2011, and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.

Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons (HB 425) and Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858).

Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in conjunction with other agency resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.

SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry & Representative Joseph Casello (HB 573) are our sponsors.

If you are experiencing signs of depression, or if you are struggling a mental health issue please visit JonsChallenge.org.

Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.

Our sponsors for this legislation are Representative Wymann Duggan (HB 453) and Senator Ed Hooper (SB 884).

The 2020-21 General Appropriations Act Set To Go To Conference Committee

The Legislature completed the next step in the budgeting process. The full House and Senate passed separate budgets yesterday and then got out of town. When the chambers reconvene this week, the leadership will appoint conference committees to begin working on the differences between the two budgets. The Legislature has until March 13 to finalize the 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act.

Our COLA legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858) received unanimous support from the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee on Monday. Chairman Ed Hooper was instrumental in getting our study request through the process quickly so the bill could be heard during this year’s session. The legislation does the following:

  • Provides a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Special Risk class retirees by freezing a member’s COLA calculation as of July 1, 2020.
  • In order to receive the frozen COLA calculation, a retiree must be a member of the special risk class as of July 1, 2011 and at the time of retirement.
  • The study placed the costs associated with implementing the legislation in the 2020-2021 Fiscal year as $10 million for the state and $37 million for the counties

Our goal with this legislation is to stop the monthly reduction to your COLA accrual. Once, we get the freeze in place, we will begin to put the original COLA back in place for all employees. The reality of effort is that a handful of elected officials made a really rash decision almost ten years ago which, because of the cost for a full restoration, will we take us a long time to undo. We must start somewhere and this legislation is the start.

We also supported the creation of the Public Safety Officers’ Mental Health Taskforce (SB 1586) by Senator Ed Hooper. This taskforce will explore the best practices to eliminate officer suicides which are plaguing the ranks in Florida and the nation. Senior Vice President Mick McHale is our leader for this endeavor.

Please note how often Senator Hooper’s name gets mentioned in this weekly report. He is one the best supporters we have in Tallahassee.

Issues We Continue To Lobby For

Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers. The Senate and House released separate pay raise proposals at the end of the week. An agreement on wages must be reached before March 13th.

Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension for Special Risk Members hired prior to July 1, 2011, and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.

Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons (HB 425) and Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858).

Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in conjunction with other agency resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.

SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry & Representative Joseph Casello (HB 573) are our sponsors.

If you are experiencing signs of depression, or if you are struggling a mental health issue please visit JonsChallenge.org.

Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.

Our sponsors for this legislation are Representative Wymann Duggan (HB 453) and Senator Ed Hooper (SB 884).

The First Month Of The 2020 Legislative Session Is Complete

We completed the fourth week of the 2020 Legislative Session.

The big moves of the week were the official passage of the two chambers’ General Appropriation Acts. Each chamber presented the budget proposals to their respective Appropriations Committees. Those committees approved the proposals which now travel to the Senate and House floors for approval. The budgets do not match up which is by design. Once the two chambers pass their separate budget proposals, the Legislature will form budget conference committees to negotiate a final budget compromise. This final budget will decide pay proposals and other appropriation issues.

We also supported our reform to the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers’ Bill of Rights (HB 453 by Representative Wyman Duggan) during the House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee. The legislation includes part time officers under the bill of rights and redefines the 180 day limitation for length of investigations to apply to both internal and external complaints. The legislation was supported by the State FOP, Florida Police Chiefs and the Florida PBA. The bill passed unanimously.

Our COLA legislation received a new impact analysis which now allows our sponsor Senator Joe Gruters to present the bill (SB 858) next Monday during the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee.

Finally and tragically, we lost another brave officer on Wednesday when Trooper Joseph Bullock was killed in the line of duty. Trooper Bullock was a 19 year member of the Florida Highway Patrol and a veteran of the United States Air Force. The violence against Trooper Bullock was beyond senseless and my words are totally inadequate to express the disbelief we all feel. You can read more here. We ask that you please keep his family and all the members of the Florida Highway Patrol in your prayers.

Issues We Continue To Lobby For

Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers. The Senate and House released separate pay raise proposals at the end of the week. An agreement on wages must be reached before March 13th.

Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension for Special Risk Members hired prior to July 1, 2011 and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.

Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons (HB 425) and Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858).

Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in conjunction with other agency resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.

SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry & Representative Joseph Casello (HB 573) are our sponsors.

If you are experiencing signs of depression, or if you are struggling a mental health issue please visit JonsChallenge.org.

Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.

Our sponsors for this legislation are Representative Wymann Duggan (HB 453) and Senator Ed Hooper (SB 884).

Week Three Of The 2020 Legislative Session Comes To A Close

The third week of the 2020 Legislative Session has come to a close as the PBA’s lobbying team concentrated on the mental health legislation this week. The Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee unanimously passed SB 1586 (by Senators Ed Hooper and Ben Albritton) which creates a task force consisting of Florida PBA, FOP, Florida Professional Firefighters, Florida Sheriffs’ Association, Florida Police Chiefs’ Association, and Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association to examine officer mental health and suicide. This task force will provide prevention recommendations to the 2021 Florida Legislature and Governor.

Additionally, HB 573 by Representative Joe Casallo creates peer to peer provisions in state law. The peer to peer counseling system has shown success at suicide prevention when properly implemented. The bill passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee unanimously.

Florida PBA lobbyists supported both proposals during committee.

Our lobbyists also met with other law enforcement groups to try to reach agreement on our changes to the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights legislation. We are confident that an agreement can be reached.

Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers. The Senate and House released separate pay raise proposals at the end of the week. An agreement on wages must be reached before March 13th.

Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension for Special Risk Members hired prior to July 1, 2011 and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.

Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons (HB 425) and Senator Joe Gruters (SB 858).

Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in conjunction with other agency resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.

SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry & Representative Joseph Casello (HB 573) are our sponsors.

If you are experiencing signs of depression, or if you are struggling a mental health issue please visit JonsChallenge.org.

Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.

Our sponsors for this legislation are Representative Wymann Duggan (HB 453) and Senator Ed Hooper (SB 884).

Broward County PBA Names Michael White Associate General Counsel

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, the voice of law enforcement in Broward County, announced today the naming of Michael White, P.A. as the organization’s Associate General Counsel.

White joins the Broward County PBA after spending the last two years as an Assistant State Attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit. In his new role, White will assist General Counsel Michael Braverman in the PBA’s expanded legal department, which incorporates PBA-affiliated attorneys from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties as well.

“We are very happy to announce the hiring of attorney Michael White as our new Associate General Counsel,” Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin said. “Michael spent the last two years in the State Attorney’s Office, and he was very friendly to the law enforcement officers of Broward County. We look forward to introducing Michael to our membership.”

While serving in the State Attorney’s Office, White was responsible for investigating and prosecuting hundreds of cases across numerous divisions, including jury trials, motions to suppress, pretrial motions and non-jury trials. In 2018, he was nominated by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for Prosecutor of the Year for the state of Florida. In addition to his experience as a prosecutor, White worked in the financial sector, serving as an analyst/associate for Davis Selected Advisors, Deutsche Bank and Nomura Securities. He also co-founded a bespoke dog food company called Hudson’s Chow, LLC.

White graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in History from Tulane University in 1999 and earned his J.D. with Honors from the George Washington University School of Law in 2003.