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 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.

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.