Capitol Report

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The Capitol Report

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Matt Puckett, Executive Director
matt@flpba.org

The Florida Legislature finished the budgeting process last night at midnight. As usual, salaries were one of the last decisions to be made.

Here’s how our bargaining units fared in the final budget.

FWC:

The Legislature provided a critical market pay additive for the following counties: Lee, Collier, Monroe, Broward and Dade.
FHP:

The Legislature provided a 5% critical market pay additive for Troopers in the following counties: Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas, Duval, Marion and Escambia. Also, the previous Cost Area Differential (CAD) dollars in other locations remain in place.

Additionally, a $2,000 pay additive may be provided for the following special duties:

– K-9 handlers;
– Felony Officers;
– Criminal Interdiction Officers;
– Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Officers:
– New recruits background checks and training and technology support officers;
– Drug recognition experts;
– hazardous material squad members;
– compliance investigation squad members;
– motorcycle officers.
The Legislature permanently funded $850,000 for overtime.

Other state agencies:

No pay additives.

Why did the Legislature decide not to fund across the board raises? For those of you following the regular session, you will remember that the Low Income Pool (LIP) funding for the poor caused the session to breakdown. Low income pool funding provides health care dollars for the poor. The federal government is phasing out the LIP funding, but granted Florida an extension of one year at a reduced amount. This created a large shortfall in the operating budget.

All state PBA units:

There were no changes to health insurance premiums for employees and no increases to the employee contribution to the Florida Retirement System.

We also signed off on the status quo policy for the special compensatory leave article in the contract. This means our current contract language remains in place. This issue was at impasse during the regular session. We proposed to create a pay as you system for special compensatory leave and the Department of Management Services provided a counter proposal that we could not accept.

Here’s the major difference in the proposals – We want to be able to keep the existing contractual language allowing up to 240 hours of previously earned special comp and DMS wants that balance on past special comp to be zero. We are working with DMS to reach a solution that does not take away the previous balances, but allows a payout on future special comp earnings. Status quo keeps the balances in place and gives us another year to reach a solution.

The Legislature starts early next year; we are already discussing a pay proposal with the Speaker of House and Senate President. We will keep you informed as soon as the interim committees begin in September.

Florida PBA’s Capitol Report: Legislative Accomplishments

2015 Regular Session

– The Florida PBA was able to pass three agenda items and receive final approval from Governor Rick Scott.

– A special session to address the state’s budget will begin next week. PBA lobbyists have spent time with legislative staff and key legislators discussing our priorities for the special session. We are hopeful that our impasse issues over wages and special compensatory time for our four state bargaining units will be satisfactorily addressed.

– Below you will find articles summarizing the three PBA agenda items passed into law.

As always, stay safe.

SB 172 Local Pension Plans

Our sponsors Representative Travis Cummings, Senator Rob Bradley and Senator Jeremy Ring are to be commended for seeing this issue to the end. We are also thankful to Senate President Andy Gardiner, Speaker of the House of Representatives Steve Crisafulli, Senator Don Gaetz, Representative Matt Caldwell and Representative Dana Young for their support.

Finally, Governor Rick Scott’s decision to sign this legislation is much appreciated. We know many city managers that do not like this new legislation and they, along with others, put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Governor to veto it.

Here are some of the major SB 172 changes:

A)Through the use of mutual consent, a city and police officers can continue to operate with the same pension plan and premium tax use arrangement currently offered. The legislation WILL NOT require any changes to your pension benefits, or your allocation of premium tax monies.

B)The minimum accrual rate in statute was raised to 2.75 (the multiplier) from the previous minimum accrual rate of 2.0. Please note – this change will not automatically reduce your current accrual rate. This change simply prevents a city from cutting your accrual rate below 2.75 in the event your accrual rate is lowered by contract.

C)The legislation creates a defined contribution component (also referred to as a supplemental plan) to your pension. The DC component is only required to be created and does not require funding unless you negotiate to fund it. The DC component will not accrue unfunded actuarial liability.

D)The legislation requires all pension benefits must be at or above the statutory minimum benefit levels to receive premium tax monies. This erases the Naples Interpretation which allowed levels to drop below the statutory minimums.

E)The legislation establishes a so-called default position that divides premium tax monies in half between the DC component and the pension benefits if the mutual consent provision noted in A) is not reached.

Further explanation – if mutual consent between the officers and the cities is not reached, the statute will divide new premium money in half. Placing half of the new money into the DC component and the other half will be used to pay for previous benefits.

Example – A city receives an increase of $30,000 in premium tax monies for a tax year, but cannot reach mutual consent on the use of the new money. The $30,000 will be divided and $15,000 will be used to help pay for existing plan benefits with the other $15,000 being placed into the DC component.

F) It also provides the ability to lower benefits to no less than the minimum benefit levels and still receive premium tax monies.

Further explanation – if mutual consent is not reached and benefits are restructured (think lowered) the levels cannot go below the statutorily required minimums. The freed up premium tax money is divided in half according to the previous schedule outlined in E).

Example – A city reduces pension benefits and frees up $30,000 in premium tax monies previously allocated to pension benefits. The $30,000 will be divided in half and $15,000 will pay for the reduced pension benefits with the remaining $15,000 being placed into the DC component.

SB 248 Law Enforcement Officer Body Cameras

We owe a special thanks to Senator Chris Smith and Representative Shevrin Jones for the creation of this new law. This issue was controversial because of some the limitations it places on public access to body camera footage. These two Legislators did not buckle to the pressure from the First Amendment Foundation, the ACLU and numerous media outlets. We thank them for standing firm on privacy concerns.

The following exemptions are contained in the legislation:

– Is taken within the interior of a private residence;

– Is taken on the property of a facility that offers health care, mental health care, or social services;

– Is taken at a place where a person recorded or depicted in the recording has a reasonable expectation of privacy;

If the audio or video recording or a portion of such recording is exempt or confidential and exempt pursuant to another exemption in s. 119.071, F.S., that exemption applies and determines under which circumstances, if any, the recording or a portion of the recording may be disclosed to the public.

The exemption is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act and stands repealed on October 2, 2020, unless reviewed and saved from repeal though reenactment by the Legislature. The bill also provides a statement of public necessity for the exemption.

The bill authorizes the law enforcement agency having custody over the recording to disclose the recording to another law enforcement agency in furtherance of that agency’s official duties and responsibilities and specifies persons who may inspect the recording.

Applicable to the new exemption, a law enforcement agency must have a retention policy of at least 90 days for the audio or video recordings unless the recording is part of an active criminal investigation or criminal intelligence operation or a court orders its retention for a longer period. A law enforcement agency must disclose its records retention policy for recordings under the new exemption.

SB 264 Banning Traffic Citation Quotas

More thanks to Senator Rob Bradley for this legislation. Also a big thank you to Representative Ray Rodriguez for passage of this new law. Agencies in certain areas have used citations as a way to evaluate officers and pad the coffers. This practice breeds contempt for law enforcement and hopefully this law will deter quotas for good.

Simple stated, the legislation puts an end to traffic citation quota schemes at the local level. Additionally, a city or a county agency that generates more than 33% of revenue from traffic citations will be subject to a legislative audit which could lead to any number of sanctions.