Week Two Of The February Interim Committee Weeks Is Complete

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.

Broward County PBA Names Michael Braverman Senior General Counsel; Revamps Legal Department

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

In his new role, Braverman will lead an expanded legal department which now incorporates PBA-affiliated attorneys from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties as well.

Braverman began his career with the Dade County PBA from 1985-95, serving as a law clerk, staff attorney and General Counsel. He started his own firm in 1995, but remained a PBA-affiliated attorney, representing law enforcement officers throughout the state of Florida as a special labor counsel. Braverman received his undergraduate degree in criminology in 1984 from Florida State University, where he graduated cum laude, and his J.D. in 1987 from the Saint Thomas University School of Law in Miami. He was admitted to the Florida Bar Association in 1988.

“We are proud to bring our members the most powerful legal department in PBA history,” Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin said. “We have joined forces with the Dade and Palm Beach County legal teams to combine with our already highly respected attorneys, who are well established in Broward County.”

The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Ending January 11

Florida Capitol Report

An opening week of celebration to welcome in the new leaders of Florida’s state government was highlighted by the Inauguration of Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. The mood was festive, yet business like, giving us multiple opportunities to discuss our legislative priorities with Legislators and new members of the Florida Cabinet. We are eager to get going and excited for what the future holds.

Florida Police Benevolent Association’s Board of Directors set several priorities for the upcoming session. Most of the items are from previous years:

  • Our state employees’ bargaining units request for yearly pay raises
  • Restoring the Florida Retirement Systems’ (FRS) Cost of Living Benefit (COLA)
  • Reverting to the 25 years and out years of service for FRS Special Risk Class members hired after July 1, 2011
  • Defending Municipal Police pensions

This session, the board added the following items:

  • Updating Florida law to allow probable cause for an arrest after a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) match (or hit)
  • Upgrading texting while driving to a primary offense
  • Criminal justice reform with an emphasis on the Florida Department of Corrections

The agenda is not complete since there are several other areas in terms pay, retirement and public policy that we will be involved with before the session ends on May 3, 2019.

Our lobbying team had contact with legislative budget leaders to begin discussions on across the board pay raises and career development plans for our state employee bargaining units. The budget outlook has slightly improved since the last Capitol Report correspondence which is encouraging. The next step will be negotiations with the Department of Management Services (DMS) over each sides wage proposal. The proposals will be sent to the Legislature for final determination. The process will take place over the entirety of interim committee weeks and the full legislative session.

Our team also discussed a Florida Retirement System study request with new leaders in the Legislature. We have been talking to members of the leadership since the early summer of last year. A new actuarial impact study will have to be complete before the Legislature can enhance any of the FRS benefits. We are requesting several options to examine restoration of the COLA, restoring years of service and age. Our sponsors for the Legislation are Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Chuck Clemons.

We also discussed updating Florida law to allow a CODIS hit to grant probable cause for an arrest instead of probable cause to take a DNA sample from the match in the CODIS. The law was created back when DNA science was in its infancy. Today, DNA sample are as accurate as a latent fingerprint. Our position is as follows – waiting for the results of a DNA match following a CODIS hit unfairly places the public in danger. Not to mention, the delay gives a suspect time to flee.

All in all, this week was successful.

Our lobbying team and a great many of PBA elected officials were able to attend the Inaugural events while also advancing our issues for the upcoming session.

Broward County Police Benevolent Association Announces The Transition To Its New Executive Board

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The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, the voice of law enforcement in Broward County, announces the transition to its new Executive Board following the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, January 3, during the organization’s January Board of Directors’ meeting.

Rod Skirvin takes over as President after serving the previous six years as the organization’s Vice President. Skirvin, a 25-year member of the Broward County PBA, was a detective with the Coconut Creek Police Department upon his retirement from that agency in January of 2018.

Thomas Tiberio moves into the role of Vice President after serving as the organization’s Treasurer since June of 2016. Tiberio is a Sergeant with the Miramar Police Department, and has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 1996.

Kevin Loughran begins his first, three-year term as Treasurer. Loughran is a road patrol officer with the Wilton Manors Police Department, and has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 2014.

Meghan Anderson continues in her position as the organization’s Secretary, after being elected to her second, three-year term. Anderson is a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy and is currently assigned to the Parkland criminal investigations unit. She has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 2002.

Hallandale Beach Mayoral Candidate Keith London Is Misleading The Public With His Claim That He Has The Support Of The City’s First Responders

Hallandale Beach mayoral candidate Keith London is misleading the citizens of his city when he claims in recent social media posts that he has the support of the municipality’s first responders. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth, as members of both the Broward County PBA and the Hallandale Beach Professional Fire Fighters have joined forces to actively campaign against his candidacy and officially endorsed Joy Adams.

“London is misogynistic, racist, homophobic and a bully,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said. “These are not qualities the Broward County PBA, the Hallandale Beach Professional Fire Fighters or the residents should accept in a candidate for the city’s most powerful position. London has failed the city of Hallandale Beach.”