Baltimore County’s old-boy pension plan

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Stephen G. Samuel Moxley and Vincent Gardina all have something in common — double-dipping (“Halfway ethical,” Dec. 28).

Mr. Gardina, who held five consecutive terms on the Baltimore County Council is now head of the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability. That’s a position Mr. Kamenetz created just for him, a payback if you will. Mr. Gardina was owed a favor as he donated nearly $160,000 to Mr. Kamenetz’s campaign. I could say more about Mr. Moxley but I’ll let someone from Catonsville do that.

Through an 11th hour amendment, when no one was looking, they all voted on an exception in the pension payouts in Baltimore County to benefit themselves. If asked, Messrs. Gardina and Moxley will tell you they didn’t know that they’d be working for the county when casting their votes. Really?

Mr. Kamenetz hides behind his chief of staff, Don Mohler with a “no comment” or a claim that he has been “open” about his retirement benefits (whatever that means) or my favorite, “It’s an old issue.” So does “old” make it a non-issue?

They are lying. If you pay attention to Baltimore County politics you will see that there is a tremendous amount of old-boy networking known as cronyism going on. This exception to the pension rule was made in order to keep difficult-to-fill positions full (like school bus drivers) — not executive positions.

Why are these guys allowed to draw or bank retirement benefits while continuing to work for the county? Not only are the retirement benefits they receive paid at a higher percentage than those of most county employees, the salaries that these officials are making (in addition to their sweetheart retirement benefits) are 3-to-5 times more than what most county employees and teachers make. This is also on the heels of furlough threats for other county workers.

The only person on the council who dared call a spade a spade was Cathy Bevins from Middle River. She made the double-dipping comment in December, but I haven’t seen her say anything in print since then. I am sure she offended Messrs. Kamenentz, Gardina and Moxley. How dare she? This is her first term, so it would not be surprising to hear that she was shouted down for making such an assertion. Many of these arrogant cronies have been diving into the county coffers for years! Only we can stop them.

The more I learn about this, the angrier I get at their self-serving behavior. People in Baltimore County are asleep at the switch. Stop! Do not vote Democratic across the board blindly or because of name recognition. Let me be clear, I do not have a political agenda. I have a “what’s fair” agenda. I am a registered independent taxpayer who is anti-old-boy network.

Elaine Williams, Middle River

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County pension windfall should be investigated

Thank you for exposing the “sweetheart pension deal” that Baltimore County officials Kevin Kamenetz, Stephen G. Samuel Moxely, Vincent J. Gardina and Arnold Jablon, are receiving. For these county officials to draw or bank retirement benefits while continuing to work for the county is wrong. Not only are the retirement benefits they receive paid at a higher percentage than those of most county employees, the salaries that these officials are making (in addition to their sweetheart retirement benefits) are 3-to-5 times more than what most county employees and teachers make.

To add insult to injury, the provision allowing them to “bank” their pension benefits while still working was quietly added at the 11th hour to a bill that significantly reduced pension benefits for many county employees and reduced or altogether eliminated cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. At the time that this bill was adopted, Messrs. Kamenetz, Moxley, and Gardina — and County Administrative Officer Fred Homan who granted them this special benefit — all took the position that a reduction in benefits for other employees and retirees was necessary to preserve the financial integrity of the retirement system. Perhaps if these officials had revealed their desire to allow a select few to “double dip” the night that they quietly slipped this provision in for a vote (without any reading of its text or debate), the rest of the county council might not have found it necessary to take COLAs from retirees on fixed incomes or reduce future retirement benefits for the lowest paid county employees.

The legality of this “double dipping” provision should be questioned by the new members of the County Council, as the choice of who gets it is left up to the whim of the county administrative officer. Defined benefit plans, such as the county’s retirement plan, are supposed to be just that — defined with clear standards as to who is entitled to receive benefits and the amount that they are to receive. State law specifies that it is the job of the council to set those standards, not a political appointee who decides to bestow this benefit on his friends or the person who appointed him.

For Mr. Homan to grant this benefit to Mr. Kamenetz after he took office is even more questionable, as Section 405 of the county charter prohibits any change in the county executive’s compensation during his term in office. And, according to a document generated by the county, Mr. Jablon is not “banking” his $111,000 annual pension, but “simultaneously collecting [his] pension and new county salary” of $180,000 annually. Even the “sweetheart” provision which allows for the banking of pensions while working does not appear to allow for that. Perhaps some other law does, but I am unaware of it. These legal questions need to be addressed, and to ensure independence, a private counsel should be hired by the council to do so.

It is ironic that in the same month that this “double dipping” issue was reported by The Sun, Mr. Kamenetz proposed ethics reforms “to make sure that people have confidence in the decisions that county government makes” and stated that he is working hard just “paying [the county’s] bills each month.” Here’s an idea, let’s save money and really engender “confidence in the decisions that county government makes” by repealing this sweetheart provision and ensuring that “double dipping” by these and any other county officials comes to an end.

Virginia W. Barnhart, Towson

The writer served as Baltimore County Attorney from 1995 to 2001.

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Kamenetz: Right but wrong

3:05 PM EST, March 8, 2012

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s political blind spot on the issue of pensions apparently knows no bounds. A man who has secured for himself and some of his closest political associates a retirement benefit far beyond what ordinary county workers would be allowed is, once again, seeking to reduce the benefits for others. First, he pushed legislation in Annapolis that would reduce benefits for county workers who had previously been employed by the state or another local government, and now he is trying to do so for a group of union laborers in the Department of Public Works and other agencies.

This time, he happens to be absolutely right on the policy issue involved — but the way he’s going about addressing it is all wrong.

For the past three decades or more, for reasons no one now knows, a particular class of county workers represented by theAmerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employeeshas been allowed to include overtime in calculations of average final compensation, which is the basis for a retiree’s pension benefit. Because those calculations have been based just on the highest consecutive 12 months of service (not a more common standard, like the average for a worker’s final three years of employment), the inclusion of overtime had the potential to radically distort individuals’ benefits. All a worker would have to do in order to secure a disproportionately golden retirement is to work a huge amount of overtime during one year of his or her career.

Some cases provided by the county illustrate the point. One worker’s salary is $56,000, but because he racked up $48,000 in overtime during one 12-month period, his pension will be more than $54,000 a year. Another worker with a base salary of about $58,000 will retire with a pension of more than $62,000 — his pension will actually be higher than his salary. That makes no sense whatsoever, and it should be changed.

The problem is that the legislation the Kamenetz administration introduced in the County Council on the matter comes in the middle of contract negotiations with AFSCME, which have broken down over this very issue. Last summer, the county proposed an extension of AFSCME’s current contract but with an addendum specifying that overtime would not be used in the calculation of pensions. The membership rejected the proposal — though it’s not clear that the overtime provision was the only reason. When negotiations on a new contract began in the fall, the county brought up the use of overtime in calculating average final compensation, and talks eventually broke down over the issue.

The union is complaining that the legislation represents a sign that the county is not bargaining in good faith, and it has a point. Had Mr. Kamenetz pursued this legislation before the negotiations, to take effect with the new contract this summer, that would have been fine. If he were to do so after this round of negotiations is finished, to take effect with the next contract, that, too, would be fair. But as it is, it appears that the county doesn’t like the way things have gone at the bargaining table and is trying to legislate its way out of the problem.

That’s reminiscent of its bungling of the pension issue for former employees of the state or other county governments. The county is currently in litigation over the way it calculates their benefits, and it has lost at both the Baltimore County Board of Appeals and at the circuit court level. The case is now pending before the Court of Special Appeals, but Mr. Kamenetz has in the meantime sought to short-circuit the legal process by changing state law, a fact members of the House of Delegates noted with disapproval during a hearing on the matter last month.

But the problem Mr. Kamenetz faces on this issue is more fundamental. Although he is right on the policy question of overtime in average final compensation calculations, he has no moral authority on pension reform whatsoever. Mr. Kamenetz is currently earning his $150,000 a year salary as county executive while banking his $41,000-a-year pension from his 16 years as a county councilman and earning a new pension as executive. That’s called “double-dipping,” and it’s ordinarily illegal. But thanks to a law he helped vote into existence two years ago, he is allowed to do it — provided he is approved for the benefit by the county administrative officer, who serves at the executive’s pleasure. Mr. Kamenetz lined up the same benefit for two former council colleagues who are now top aides in his administration; another aide and confidant is being allowed to earn a $180,000 a year salary and bank a $111,000 pension from his previous county service.

Yes, the AFSCME workers are getting an outsized benefit that is unavailable to others and which serves no public policy purpose. But so is Mr. Kamenetz.

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Justice Dept. Probes Balto. Co. Minority Hiring for Police, Fire …

baltimoresun.com

By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

10:09 PM EST, February 21, 2012

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of possible racial discrimination in hiring at the Baltimore County police and fire departments, according to correspondence between the agency and the county.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division recently sent a two-page letter asking the county for “more information regarding the hiring of African Americans.” Specifically, the agency asked about entry-level hiring at the two departments to help it “fully evaluate whether or not the County is in violation.”

The letter, headed “Investigation into the Employment Practices of Baltimore County, MD,” mentions a section of the Civil Rights Act barring discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity.

The Department of Justice has a policy of not confirming investigations, and offered no comment on the letter. County officials declined to comment on the investigation, but County Executive Kevin Kamenetz acknowledged receiving the federal notice in a 10-page letter he sent last week to U.S. Rep.Elijah E. Cummings detailing the county’s efforts to hire and promote minorities.

The Justice Department letter, dated Jan. 30, marks the third time since the late 1970s that the agency has investigated discrimination in county hiring. It comes as the Justice Department is also looking into claims by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission that the county repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 1998, the Justice Department opened an investigation of racial discrimination in the fire department a year after a black firefighter found a noose hanging with his work gear. In 1979 and 1980, the county settled a suit filed by the Justice Department, agreeing to an array of goals for hiring women and minorities in all departments, including police and fire.

In his letter to Cummings, Kamenetz detailed long-range police and fire department goals and said the county had been making progress. He emphasized that promoting diversity in the two agencies “has been a long-standing priority” for his and previous administrations.

While he acknowledged that women and minorities have been “underrepresented” in the fire department and in some sections of the police department, he also noted some successes. Since 2007, he said, the growing police department has gained 13 percent more minorities and less than a half of one percent more white members.

Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, met recently with leaders of organizations of African-American members of both the police and fire departments, who told him their complaints about minority hiring, according to the correspondence obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

“We’re very much underrepresented in this department at every level,” Fire Specialist Irvin Lewis, president of the Guardian Knights organization and a 29-year county firefighter, said on Tuesday. He praised his department’s work fighting fires, but he said the agency has not done as well bringing in African-American members.

“It appears that in the past, diversity was not a priority in the fire department,” said Lewis, adding that he was more optimistic that something would be done under the new administration. He said Cummings “appeared to be very interested in hearing about the lack of minorities in the fire department.”

After his meeting with Lewis and police Sgt. Orlando Lilly of the Blue Guardians, Cummings wrote to the county in January with questions about the police and fire departments’ minority hiring efforts. A copy of Cummings’ letter was not available on Tuesday, and the congressman could not be reached for comment, but Kamenetz included some of the questions about planning and progress in his response.

Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the county police and fire departments, said because there have been so many retirements from both agencies recently in response to a county buyout program, up-to-date numbers on the percentage of minorities in each department could not be made available Tuesday.

Lewis estimated that roughly 10 percent of about 1,000 professional firefighters — not including volunteers — are African-Americans. According to the 2010 census, African-Americans make up 26 percent of the county’s population.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Retirement Party for Steve Birkmeyer

A retirement celebration for Steve Birkmeyer to celebrate his over 25 years with the police department will be held on Sunday April 22, 2012 from 4pm – 8pm at the Maryland State Police FOP Lodge #69 in Catonsville, Maryland.  The cost is $40.
Food and beverages will be compliments of the Ships Cafe Restaurant.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Dominic Long @ 410-744-1838/rlong@baltimorecountymd.gov or Jimmy Andrews @ 410-744-1838 (or stop in the Ships Cafe)

Death Notification: Curtis Knudsen

The Lodge regrets to announce the death of Curtis Knudsen, brother of Officer Robert Knudsen of Precinct 11.
Viewing: Connelly’s Funeral Home 300 Mace Ave 21221 February 27, 2012 at  3:00pm – 5:00pm and 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Funeral service will be Tuesday February 28, 2012 at Holly Hills Cemetery at 10:00am
A wake for family and friends will be immediately after at St. Claires Church On Myrth Ave,

Justice Dept. Probes Balto. Co. Minority Hiring for Police, Fire …

… Kamenetz cites recent progress in new hires …

baltimoresun.com

By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

10:09 PM EST, February 21, 2012

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of possible racial discrimination in hiring at the Baltimore County police and fire departments, according to correspondence between the agency and the county.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division recently sent a two-page letter asking the county for “more information regarding the hiring of African Americans.” Specifically, the agency asked about entry-level hiring at the two departments to help it “fully evaluate whether or not the County is in violation.”

The letter, headed “Investigation into the Employment Practices of Baltimore County, MD,” mentions a section of the Civil Rights Act barring discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity.

The Department of Justice has a policy of not confirming investigations, and offered no comment on the letter. County officials declined to comment on the investigation, but County Executive Kevin Kamenetz acknowledged receiving the federal notice in a 10-page letter he sent last week to U.S. Rep.Elijah E. Cummings detailing the county’s efforts to hire and promote minorities.

The Justice Department letter, dated Jan. 30, marks the third time since the late 1970s that the agency has investigated discrimination in county hiring. It comes as the Justice Department is also looking into claims by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission that the county repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 1998, the Justice Department opened an investigation of racial discrimination in the fire department a year after a black firefighter found a noose hanging with his work gear. In 1979 and 1980, the county settled a suit filed by the Justice Department, agreeing to an array of goals for hiring women and minorities in all departments, including police and fire.

In his letter to Cummings, Kamenetz detailed long-range police and fire department goals and said the county had been making progress. He emphasized that promoting diversity in the two agencies “has been a long-standing priority” for his and previous administrations.

While he acknowledged that women and minorities have been “underrepresented” in the fire department and in some sections of the police department, he also noted some successes. Since 2007, he said, the growing police department has gained 13 percent more minorities and less than a half of one percent more white members.

Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, met recently with leaders of organizations of African-American members of both the police and fire departments, who told him their complaints about minority hiring, according to the correspondence obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

“We’re very much underrepresented in this department at every level,” Fire Specialist Irvin Lewis, president of the Guardian Knights organization and a 29-year county firefighter, said on Tuesday. He praised his department’s work fighting fires, but he said the agency has not done as well bringing in African-American members.

“It appears that in the past, diversity was not a priority in the fire department,” said Lewis, adding that he was more optimistic that something would be done under the new administration. He said Cummings “appeared to be very interested in hearing about the lack of minorities in the fire department.”

After his meeting with Lewis and police Sgt. Orlando Lilly of the Blue Guardians, Cummings wrote to the county in January with questions about the police and fire departments’ minority hiring efforts. A copy of Cummings’ letter was not available on Tuesday, and the congressman could not be reached for comment, but Kamenetz included some of the questions about planning and progress in his response.

Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the county police and fire departments, said because there have been so many retirements from both agencies recently in response to a county buyout program, up-to-date numbers on the percentage of minorities in each department could not be made available Tuesday.

Lewis estimated that roughly 10 percent of about 1,000 professional firefighters — not including volunteers — are African-Americans. According to the 2010 census, African-Americans make up 26 percent of the county’s population.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

DC Council Bans ‘Bad Words’ …

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Steve Fermier and Associated Press

The D.C. Council has passed a measure banning members from using profanity during public meetings.

The council unanimously approved the resolution without debate Tuesday.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown pushed the resolution after D.C. Council members Marion Barry and David Catania got into a profanity-laced shouting match during a retreat last week.

It bars members from using “profane, indecent or abusive language” during meetings.

If a Council member violates the new rules, Brown will be empowered to try to remove that member from the meeting.

Brown says the policy puts into code internal policies he implemented in the fall.

~~~~~~~~~~

… What the @*&#%$%?! …

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Legislators to Review Distribution of Marijuana for Medical Use …

… Proponents push divergent plans for patient access …

baltimoresun.com

By Kevin Rector, krector@tribune.com

2:30 PM EST, February 14, 2012

The use of medical marijuana in Maryland and how a statewide system could legally provide patient access are once again before the General Assembly, with three bills filed in recent weeks — each proposing a very different system for dispensing and distribution of the drug.

Though federal law criminalizes the use of the drug, some legislators — led by Del. Dan Morhaim, a District 11 Democrat from Baltimore County and the legislature’s only medical doctor, and Sen. David Brinkley, a Republican who represents Carroll and Frederick counties in the 4th District — have pushed in recent years for the state to adopt its own laws permitting and providing for the drug’s use by medical patients with specific, debilitating conditions, a step already taken by more than a dozen other states and the District of Columbia.

Last year, the legislature passed a bipartisan bill that essentially decriminalized use of the drug by people who can show it is for “therapeutic or palliative relief,” cleared the way for physicians to discuss use of the drug with patients without fear of reprisal from the state’s medical licensing board, and created a panel charged with making recommendations for medical access to the drug in the state moving forward, said Morhaim, a panel member.

Still, the fact that patients lack a safe way to purchase or receive the drug remains a major gap in the state’s overall policy toward medical marijuana use, Morhaim said. It’s one he hopes will be filled this session with new legislation based on the findings of the 22-member panel, which split to produce two separate plans for a state-backed medical marijuana system late last year.

“We’ve already acknowledged that (medical patients who use marijuana) shouldn’t be criminalized. That’s a step forward,” Morhaim said. “But the patient still has to go out and have a dealer-patient relationship, instead of a doctor-patient relationship. They’re still putting money into the illegal drug trade, which isn’t a good thing.”

One panel plan, backed by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a panel member, recommends treating medical marijuana as an investigational drug that specific research institutions in the state would be able to dispense to limited patient pools while studying the treatment’s effects.

The other panel plan, endorsed by Brinkley and Morhaim, calls for creating a network of state-sanctioned dispensaries — and growers — that would work with physicians across the state, trained in recommending use of the drug, while also providing for data collection.

On Feb. 10, bills reflecting both plans were introduced in the House by Morhaim, who had said earlier that the legislation would mirror the recommendations of the two plans, and “overlap about 90 percent.” Senate versions of the bills were expected to be introduced this week.

“What I hope is that it makes marijuana available to those patients who need it, who have tried everything else and found it didn’t help them, in a safe and secure way, under controlled circumstances,” Morhaim said.

Cultivation conversation

Even before last week’s filing, two committees in the House of Delegates were already hearing a separate bill sponsored by Del. Cheryl Glenn, a District 45 Democrat from Baltimore City, that would legalize the medical use of the drug and allow for home cultivation of marijuana plants by qualified patients, an option not recommended by either plan that came out of the panel but one that exists in other states.

Because of the home cultivation language, that legislation is considered by some to be less likely to succeed than the legislation directly supporting the panel-recommended plans, according to Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, a medical marijuana advocacy group that has been actively lobbying legislators in the state.

“We’ve determined that that’s something that will not be able to pass, at least at this time,” said Riffle, whose organization supports home cultivation but pushes legislation they consider viable.

“We want to move the ball as far forward as we can,” Riffle said. “But to the extent that Glenn’s bill adds to the conversation, I think that’s a good thing.”

Glenn said she hopes her bill will spark conversation.

“I don’t have any delusions of grandeur,” she said. “But whether my bill passes or not, I want the conversation to be there. I want this to be on the table.”

Glenn’s mother died last year of kidney cancer. Her brother-in-law died five years ago from bile duct cancer. As she watched them “waste away” because they were unable to eat, “several doctors indicated that it was just shameful they could not prescribe medical marijuana as an appetite stimulant,” Glenn said.

In part because of that, she has long been working with Morhaim and state Sen. David Brinkley, a District 4 Republican from Carroll and Frederick counties and another leading medical marijuana proponent, on crafting legislation.

She sees controlled, licensed home cultivation by patients with monitored doctor-patient relationships as critical to ensuring the law does not “create a situation of the haves and the have nots,” so decided to introduce her own legislation, she said.

“Too many people would not be able to afford the medical marijuana, if they are not allowed to do personal cultivation,” Glenn said. “We still have a lot of working poor in Maryland, and we have a lot of people who still can’t afford health care.”

Facilitating access

Morhaim said while he is happy both panel plans “recognize that the status quo is flawed and that it’s time to move forward,” he hopes the plan he backs gains momentum in the legislature rather than the plan backed by Sharfstein.

He said restricting distribution of the drug to research institutions would limit the benefits of the drug, especially in areas of the state without such institutions, and would unnecessarily proscribe the participation of well-qualified doctors across the state who know their patients best but who don’t work at one of the institutions.

“Why should physicians who are perfectly competent and who work in those areas not be able to help their patients?” he asked.

More importantly, Morhaim said Sharfstein’s plan simply isn’t viable on a practical level, because research institutions like Johns Hopkins University or the University of Maryland that receive federal funding aren’t likely to risk that funding — or their own legal standing — by participating in a program that, while created under state law, would still break with federal law.

Sharfstein disagreed, and said he has already heard interest in his plan’s potential from state institutions, though he declined to name them.

He also said the amount of evidence on medical marijuana as a therapeutic drug is still insufficient for a system of use based on doctor recommendations. That makes it more appropriate to treat medical marijuana as an investigational drug, and academic institutions often offer the first line of study and testing of such drugs, he said.

“When you don’t have convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks, then it’s appropriate to be gathering data and to be thoughtful about which patients should be trying the therapy and why,” Sharfstein said. “Academic centers do exactly this.”

Riffle said he shares Morhaim’s concerns about Sharfstein’s plan.

How to create state medical marijuana law that contradicts federal law is a concern in general, Riffle said, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle to new state legislation, as was shown with the state legislation passed during last year’s session.

“We’ve already sort of passed that bridge,” Riffle said. “We’ve already said the state of Maryland is going to diverge from federal law when it comes to patients who need medical marijuana.”

Now, Riffle said, the discussion is all about “how best to facilitate access.”

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Democrat who represents District 10 that includes Catonsville, and a registered nurse, said her stance on medical marijuana is in line with Morhaim’s plan, largely because of her concerns with access.

There needs to be a law in Maryland that allows people with serious medical conditions to receive medical marijuana “without endangering their lives and going out on the street, and possibly facing arrest,” she said.

She said she would like to see substantive progress on the matter this session, beyond what would be provided by categorizing medical marijuana an “investigational drug” that can only be handled by research institutions.

The medical community has already largely agreed on the medical benefits of the drug for certain patients, she said, including “people with cancer and other diseases that are nauseating” and patients who have trouble eating.

In fact, the drug has been shown to be beneficial for patients suffering from a broad array of illnesses, she said, including multiple sclerosis, as former talk-show host Montel Williams testified when he advocated for a medical marijuana law in the state last year.

“We know that it works,” she said. “I don’t need to spend a whole lot more time and money investigating it.”

Whichever bill emerges as the most likely to succeed — one of the two reflecting the work group findings or Glenn’s bill — Morhaim said he hopes the issue receives the same open-minded, bipartisan consideration as the legislation that passed last year.

Medicalizing the use of the drug will help everyone, he said, in part by diminishing its appeal as a street drug.

“It loses its glamour when it’s grandma’s medicine,” he said.

Balto. Co. Unveils New, $76M Emergency Dispatch System …

… Spending to improve sound, reliability was approved by voters …

baltimoresun.com

By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

11:04 AM EST, February 16, 2012

Baltimore County officials this morning announced they have finished work on a new $76 million radio system for police, fire and other emergency crew members designed to improve sound quality and make transmission more reliable.

The new system was scheduled to go into service this week, said county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler. She said the new system includes 18 towers, 10 more than before, for improved signals. The project was paid for using $71 million from the county general fund, approved by voters in a referendum question. The balance came from state and federal money.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was scheduled to make the announcement at the Circuit Court building in Towson today along with Police Chief Jim Johnson, Fire Chief John Hohman, Public Works Director Ed Adams and other officials.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Grand Lodge News: Washington Watch: Legislative Update …

… For the Week of 6 February 2012 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     Reduced NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco met with Nathanael P. Tamarin, Special Assistant to the President of the United States. to discuss the problems encountered by public safety collective bargaining units at the State and local level.

Executive Director Jim Pasco met with James H. Burch II, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) at the U.S. Department of Justice to discuss next week’s hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on the need to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) grant program and other OJP grant programs.

Executive Director Pasco met with Louis F. Quijas, Assistant Secretary for Office for State & Local Law Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to discuss the Department’s participation at the Spring Meeting of the National Board of Trustees.

Executive Director Pasco met with Bruce Cohen, chief counsel to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding next week’s hearing before the Committee on the need to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) grant program.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson had an extended conversation with staff in the office of Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) regarding H.R. 324, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act, and other issues affecting Federal law enforcement officers.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson participated in a conference call with staff on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding next week’s hearing on the need to reauthorize the BVP grant program. 

Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at the annual Legislative Conference of the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) in Washington, DC.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen participated in a conference call with industry and law enforcement stakeholders regarding next week’s hearing on the need to reauthorize the BVP grant program.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson, Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch represented the FOP at a legislative reception hosted by the National District Attorneys’ Association (NDAA).  Our staff was able to interact with the NDAA leadership and numerous Congressional staffers.

II.     THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and the Senate were in session this week.

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 3521, the “Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act,” on a 254-173 vote.  The bill, which would give the President “line item veto” authority, along him to propose the rescission of all or any dollar amount of funding provided by any enacted bill or joint resolution, will now be transmitted to the Senate for further consideration.

The House considered, amended, and passed S. 2038, the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act,” on a 417-2 vote.  The bill will return to the Senate for further action and could be sent to a conference committee for reconciliation.

Action House Committees
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform considered and favorably reported, H.R. 3813, the “Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act,” on a 22-16 vote.  The bill, which the FOP strongly opposes, would undermine both he Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) by increasing employee contributions from 0.8% and 6.9% to 2.3% and 8.4%, respectively, over a three year period.  You can see how your Representative voted here:
http://oversight.house.gov/images/stories/Markups/Roll_Call_Votes/H.R._3813_vote_4_Final_Passage_passed_22-16.pdf

PLEASE NOTE: The language in H.R. 3813 has also been merged into H.R. 7, the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act,” (see above) and may be included in H.R. 3630, the “Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act” or similar legislation.  The stand-alone measure, H.R. 3813, is on the calendar and could be scheduled for floor action.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held an oversight hearing entitled, “The Right to Choose: Protecting Union Workers from Forced Political Contributions.”  The hearing scrutinized the means by which unions collect dues and the transparency of their use, particularly for political activity.

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed the conference report on H.R. 658, the “Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization and Reform Act,” on a 75-20 vote.  The bill, which would reauthorize the FAA through FY2014, was transmitted to the President, who is expected to sign the bill.

The Senate invoked cloture on the motion to proceed to debate S. 1813, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21),”  on a 85-11 vote.  The Senate now begins debate on the bill.

III.   UPDATE ON TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov.
 
A.  Social Security Issues

(1) Support the H.R. 1332/S. 2010, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We currently have one hundred and forty-three (143) cosponsors on H.R. 1332.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including Delegates Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), who have limited voting rights on the floor. We are also not including Representative David Wu (D-OR), who resigned his seat earlier this year, or Representative Dean Heller (R-NV), who eft the House after being appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

We currently have seven (7) cosponsors on the Senate companion bill, S. 2010.

In addition, National Legislative Office staff continue to work with staff in the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on S. 113, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act,” and with Representative Kevin P. Brady on the House companion measure, H.R. 2797.  This legislation would not impact the Government Pension Offset (GPO) but would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a more equitable, individualized calculation of Social Security benefits based on an individual’s entire work history. 

Currently, there is one (1) cosponsor on the Senate bill and seven (7) cosponsors on the House bill.

(2)  Opposing any legislation that would require the participation of public employees in Social Security
The FOP will continue to lobby against this scheme and oppose any legislation which would mandate participation in Social Security.

B.  Support the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
This legislation, which would guarantee the right of public safety employees to bargain collectively with their employers over hours, wages and conditions of employment, has not yet been introduced. 

C.  Support H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act”
We currently have six (6) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced, but we are working with staff in the office of several Senators in an effort to develop a Senate companion bill.

D. Support the H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act” and S. 985, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Equity Act”
We currently have a total of ten (10) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

We currently have a total of one (1) cosponsor on S. 985.

E.  Support the H.R. 324, legislation giving Federal law enforcement officers employed by the U.S. Department of Defense statutory arrest authority
We currently have eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

IV.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
In just over two weeks, FOP members from around the nation will come to Capitol Hill to lobby their Members of Congress on the FOP’s top legislative priorities.  The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will take place Monday, 27 February and run through Wednesday, 29 February.

On Monday, 27 February 2012 the National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW, at 4pm.  PLEASE ATTEND THIS BRIEFING!!! 

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! You can find the contact information for your Representative at http://www.house.gov/ and the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/. Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
 
Schedule
Monday, 27 February, 4pm – Legislative briefing at District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW
Tuesday, 28 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
Wednesday, 29 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators

 
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
Make sure your friends and coworkers know about our weekly updates! The grassroots emails are the most accurate source of information about the FOP on the Hill­ covering information on meetings, bills, and events.
 
To add your name from our mailing list, please send an email to grassroots@fop.net with ADD and the State in which you live, in the Subject Line.

 
VI.      REDUCED NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway!
The National Fraternal Order of Police PAC has a number of 2011 commemorative NFOP PAC pocket knives remaining.  We also have one pair of Oakley Antix sunglasses, one pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses and two Oakley goggles available. All these Oakley products are valued over $100. 

We will be giving these Oakley products away, until they are gone, to every 30th person who orders a NFOP PAC pocket knife!

You can purchase a NFOP PAC pocket knife at the reduced price of only $15 for the chance to win one of these Oakley products! You will be alerted over the phone if you are one of the four lucky winners!

To order a NFOP PAC pocket knife, please complete the order form below and email to glynch@fop.net or call 202-547-8189.

NFOP PAC Contribution Form

Please return the form and contribution to:

National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
328 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
 

Full Name___________________________________________________________________

Occupation________________________________Employer______________________

Address_________________________________________________________________

City__________________________State_________________Zip Code______________

Phone__________________________Email____________________________________

Number of Knives______________Contribution Amount____________Date___________

Credit Card Number_________________________________Exp. Date________________
(Please note that we can only accept VISA or MasterCard.)

Is the contributor a member of the FOP?______
 
If Yes, please list:

FOP State Lodge_______________________________
FOP Local Lodge_______________________________
FOP Membership #______________________________
If No, please list:

 FOP Member’s Name______________________________________________________

Your Relationship to the FOP Member________________________________________

Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  Contributions to the NFOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. You contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires PACs to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for reach individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.
Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office

Grand Lodge: Washington Watch: Legislative Update …

… For the Week of 30 January 2012 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     Reduced NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson met with staff in the office of Senator Christopher A. Coons (D-DE) to discuss the introduction of a Senate companion bill to H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act.”

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a stakeholder meeting of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities to discuss building support for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) programs.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch spoke with staff at the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security about consideration of H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act,” as well as staff in the office of the bill’s sponsor, Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY).

II.     THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and the Senate were in session this week.

Action in the House
The House considered and passed the conference report on H.R. 658, the “Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization and Reform Act,” on a 248-169 vote.  The bill, which would reauthorize the FAA through FY2014, was transmitted to the Senate, which is expected to pass the bill next week.

The House considered and passed H.R. 3582, the “Pro-Growth Budgeting Act,” on a 242-179 vote.  The bill, which require the Congressional Budget Office to take into account the effects that bills might have on economic growth using a calculation known as “dynamic scoring,” will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

The House considered and passed H.R. 3835 on a 309-117 vote.  The bill extends the pay limitation on the salaries of Members of Congress and other Federal employees through 2013.

Action House Committees
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice and questioned U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., about Operation: Fast and Furious which was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed S. 2038, the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act,” on a 96-3 vote.  The bill now goes to the House for further consideration.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on the Judiciary considered and passed S. 1925, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,” on a 10-8 vote.  While the FOP is not supporting the underlying legislation, we did support a provision of the bill expanding the use of “U visas”–specialized visas requested by law enforcement officers for crime victims that are assisting in criminal investigations or prosecutions.  Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, singled out the FOP at the mark-up and thanked us for our support and National President Chuck Canterbury for his leadership.

III.    UPDATE ON TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov.
 
A.  Social Security Issues

(1) Support the H.R. 1332/S. 2010, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We currently have one hundred and forty-three (143) cosponsors on H.R. 1332.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including Delegates Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), who have limited voting rights on the floor. We are also not including Representative David Wu (D-OR), who resigned his seat earlier this year, or Representative Dean Heller (R-NV), who eft the House after being appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

We added four (4) cosponsors to the Senate companion bill, S. 2010: Senators Maria E. Cantwell (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Timothy P. Johnson (D-SD), and Olympia J. Snowe (R-MA).  This brings our current total to svene (7) cosponsors.

In addition, National Legislative Office staff continue to work with staff in the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on S. 113, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act,” and with Representative Kevin P. Brady on the House companion measure, H.R. 2797.  This legislation would not impact the Government Pension Offset (GPO) but would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a more equitable, individualized calculation of Social Security benefits based on an individual’s entire work history. 

Currently, there is one (1) cosponsor on the Senate bill and seven (7) cosponsors on the House bill.

(2)  Opposing any legislation that would require the participation of public employees in Social Security
The FOP will continue to lobby against this scheme and oppose any legislation which would mandate participation in Social Security.

B.  Support the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
This legislation, which would guarantee the right of public safety employees to bargain collectively with their employers over hours, wages and conditions of employment, has not yet been introduced. 

C.  Support H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act”
We currently have six (6) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced, but we are working with staff in the office of several Senators in an effort to develop a Senate companion bill.

D. Support the H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act” and S. 985, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Equity Act”
We currently have a total of ten (10) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

We currently have a total of one (1) cosponsor on S. 985.

E.  Support the H.R. 324, legislation giving Federal law enforcement officers employed by the U.S. Department of Defense statutory arrest authority
We currently have eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

IV.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!! ONLY ONE DAYS LEFT!!!
The special room rate for FOP members attending the Day on the Hill ends today – book your room NOW!!!

The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will take place Monday, 27 February and run through Wednesday, 29 February. On Monday, 27 February 2012 the National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW, at 4pm.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! You can find the contact information for your Representative at http://www.house.gov/ and the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/. Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
 
Schedule
Monday, 27 February, 4pm – Legislative briefing at District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW
Tuesday, 28 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
Wednesday, 29 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
 
Accommodations
The National Legislative Office has arranged for accommodations at the DuPont Circle Hotel located at 1500 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The hotel is located just one block from the Metro, making it easy for you to move around Capitol Hill and the city.

The rate is $183 per night. To be guaranteed this special rate you MUST CALL and identify yourself as part of the Grand Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police. Make your reservations now by calling (202) 483-6000.

The cut-off date for reservations is TODAY, so don’t delay­–make that reservation NOW!!!

V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
Make sure your friends and coworkers know about our weekly updates! The grassroots emails are the most accurate source of information about the FOP on the Hill­ covering information on meetings, bills, and events.
 
To add your name from our mailing list, please send an email to grassroots@fop.net with ADD and the State in which you live, in the Subject Line.

 
VI.      REDUCED NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway!
The National Fraternal Order of Police PAC has a number of 2011 commemorative NFOP PAC pocket knives remaining.  We also have one pair of Oakley Antix sunglasses, one pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses and two Oakley goggles available. All these Oakley products are valued over $100. 

We will be giving these Oakley products away, until they are gone, to every 30th person who orders a NFOP PAC pocket knife!

You can purchase a NFOP PAC pocket knife at the reduced price of only $15 for the chance to win one of these Oakley products! You will be alerted over the phone if you are one of the four lucky winners!

To order a NFOP PAC pocket knife, please complete the order form below and email to glynch@fop.net or call 202-547-8189.

NFOP PAC Contribution Form

Please return the form and contribution to:

National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
328 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
 

Full Name___________________________________________________________________

Occupation________________________________Employer______________________

Address_________________________________________________________________

City__________________________State_________________Zip Code______________

Phone__________________________Email____________________________________

Number of Knives______________Contribution Amount____________Date___________

Credit Card Number_________________________________Exp. Date________________
(Please note that we can only accept VISA or MasterCard.)

Is the contributor a member of the FOP?______
 
If Yes, please list:

FOP State Lodge_______________________________
FOP Local Lodge_______________________________
FOP Membership #______________________________
If No, please list:

 FOP Member’s Name______________________________________________________

Your Relationship to the FOP Member________________________________________

Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  Contributions to the NFOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. You contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires PACs to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for reach individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.
Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office

Grand Lodge News: Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 23 January 2012 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     
DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     Reduced NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway

 
I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY

DON’T FORGET TO BOOK ROOMS FOR DAY ON THE HILL!!! ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT!!!

Executive Director Jim Pasco met with Craig Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and Mariah Hughes, Executive Director of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), to discuss continuing cooperation with the FOP.
Executive Director Pasco met with Jim Sullivan, Chief of Staff for Customs and Border Protection, to discuss border issues.
Executive Director Pasco met with Bruce Cohen, Chief Counsel to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, on a wide range of issues pending in the Judiciary Committee.
Executive Director Pasco spoke with Nathanael P. Tamarin, Special Assistant to the President of the United States, regarding police layoffs.
Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson represented the FOP at the quarterly meeting of the Officer Safety and Wellness Working Group.  Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General, Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Bernard K. Melekian, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services were all in attendance.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch met with staff in the office of Representative Howard H. Coble (R-NC) to discuss H.R 365, the “National Blue Alert Act.”
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Lynch met with Caroline Lynch, chief counsel for the majority staff of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
 
Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a meeting with majority staff for the House Committee on the Judiciary to discuss funding issues.

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and Senate were in session this week. Both chambers met in a joint session this week for the State of the Union address.

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 3801, the “Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act.” This bill, introduced by Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), would amends the Tariff Act of 1930 with respect to aviation smuggling to extend its coverage of aircraft to: (1) any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air; and (2) ultralight vehicles. The measure was passed by a vote of 408-0.

Action in House Committees
The Rules Committee’s Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process held a hearing on a bill to provide a biennial federal budget (H.R. 114).
 
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs held a hearing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with Richard Cordray, the Bureau’s first Director.
 
Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and accepted the nomination John M. Gerrard to be a Federal judge in Nebraska by a vote of 74-16.

III.       UPDATE ON FOP TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov.
 
A.  Social Security Issues

(1) Support H.R. 1332/S. 2010, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We added two (2) additional cosponsors to H.R. 1332, bringing our current total to one hundred and forty-one (141) cosponsors.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including Delegates Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) or Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), who have limited voting rights on the floor. We are also not including Representative David Wu (D-OR), who resigned his seat earlier this year, or Representative Dean Heller (R-NV), who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Richard E. Neal (D-MA) were added this week as cosponsors.

The Senate companion measure, S. 2010, was introduced by Senator John F. Kerry, Jr. (D-MA), and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), just before the conclusion of the first session.  This week, two (2) cosponsors were added to the bill: Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

In addition, National Legislative Office staff continue to work with staff in the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on S. 113, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act,” and with Representative Kevin P. Brady on the House companion measure, H.R. 2797.  This legislation would not impact the Government Pension Offset (GPO) but would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a more equitable, individualized calculation of Social Security benefits based on an individual’s entire work history. 

Currently, there is one (1) cosponsor on the Senate bill and seven (7) cosponsors on the House bill.

(2)  Opposing any legislation that would require the participation of public employees in Social Security
The FOP will continue to lobby against this scheme and oppose any legislation which would mandate participation in Social Security.

B.  Support the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
This legislation, which would guarantee the right of public safety employees to bargain collectively with their employers over hours, wages and conditions of employment, has not yet been introduced. 

C.  Support H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act”
We currently have six (6) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced, but we are working with staff in the office of several Senators in an effort to develop a Senate companion bill.

D. Support the H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act” and S. 985, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Equity Act”
We currently have a total of ten (10) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

We currently have a total of one (1) cosponsor on S. 985.

E.  Support the H.R. 324, legislation giving Federal law enforcement officers employed by the U.S. Department of Defense statutory arrest authority
We currently have eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

IV.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!! ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT!!!
The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will take place Monday, 27 February and run through Wednesday, 29 February. On Monday, 27 February 2012 the National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW, at a time to be announced.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! You can find the contact information for your Representative at http://www.house.gov/ and the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/.  Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
 
Schedule
Monday, 27 February, Time TBD – Legislative briefing at District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW
Tuesday, 28 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
Wednesday, 29 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
 
Accommodations
The National Legislative Office has arranged for accommodations at the DuPont Circle Hotel located at 1500 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The hotel is located just one block from the Metro, making it easy for you to move around Capitol Hill and the city.

The rate is $183 per night. To be guaranteed this special rate you MUST CALL and identify yourself as part of the Grand Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police. Make your reservations now by calling (202) 483-6000.

The cut-off date for reservations is 1 February 2012, so don’t delay­–make that reservation today!!!

V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
Make sure your friends and coworkers know about our weekly updates! The grassroots emails are the most accurate source of information about the FOP on the Hill­ covering information on meetings, bills, and events.
 
To add your name from our mailing list, please send an email to grassroots@fop.net with ADD and the State in which you live, in the Subject Line.

 
VI.      REDUCED NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway!
The National Fraternal Order of Police PAC has a number of 2011 commemorative NFOP PAC pocket knives remaining.  We also have one pair of Oakley Antix sunglasses, one pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses and two Oakley goggles available. All these Oakley products are valued over $100. 

We will be giving these Oakley products away, until they are gone, to every 30th person who orders a NFOP PAC pocket knife!

You can purchase a NFOP PAC pocket knife at the reduced price of only $15 for the chance to win one of these Oakley products! You will be alerted over the phone if you are one of the four lucky winners!

To order a NFOP PAC pocket knife, please complete the order form below and email to glynch@fop.net or call 202-547-8189.

NFOP PAC Contribution Form

Please return the form and contribution to:

National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
328 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
 

Full Name___________________________________________________________________

Occupation________________________________Employer______________________

Address_________________________________________________________________

City__________________________State_________________Zip Code______________

Phone__________________________Email____________________________________

Number of Knives______________Contribution Amount____________Date___________

Credit Card Number_________________________________Exp. Date________________
(Please note that we can only accept VISA or MasterCard.)

Is the contributor a member of the FOP?______
 

  1. If Yes, please list:

FOP State Lodge_______________________________
FOP Local Lodge_______________________________
FOP Membership #______________________________

  1. If No, please list:

 FOP Member’s Name______________________________________________________

Your Relationship to the FOP Member________________________________________

Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  Contributions to the NFOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. You contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires PACs to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for reach individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.

Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office

Grand Lodge: Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 16 January 2012 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     
DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     Reduced NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway

 
I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY

DON’T FORGET TO BOOK ROOMS FOR DAY ON THE HILL!!!

Executive Director Jim Pasco and Kevin O’Connor, Assistant to the General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), met with Bernard Melekian, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), to discuss grants awarded by that office.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) on potential legislative movement in the House this session.

Executive Director Pasco and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen attended a reception held by the National Sheriffs’ Association in Washington, DC.

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
The House returned this week, marking the formal start of the Second Session of the 112th Congress. The Senate remains in recess this week but is expected to return next week.

Action in the House

The House approved by unanimous consent a privileged resolution (H. Res. 511) naming Paul D. Irving, a former top U.S. Secret Service official, the 36th Sergeant at Arms.

III.       UPDATE ON FOP TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov.
 
A.  Social Security Issues

(1) Support H.R. 1332/S. 2010, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We added ten (10) additional cosponsors to H.R. 1332, bringing our current total to one hundred and forty-one (141) cosponsors.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including Delegates Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) or Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), who have limited voting rights on the floor. We are also not including Representative David Wu (D-OR), who resigned his seat earlier this year, or Representative Dean Heller (R-NV), who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

Representatives Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Sam Graves (R-MO), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Brad Miller (D-NC), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Jon Runyan (R-NJ); and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) were all added as cosponsors this week.

The Senate companion measure, S. 2010, was introduced by Senator John F. Kerry, Jr. (D-MA), and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), just before the conclusion of the first session.  Senator Collins is the only cosponsor, but the National Legislative Office launched a letter campaign to contact previous cosponsors of the bill and we hope to add cosponsors when the Senate returns to session next week.

In addition, National Legislative Office staff continue to work with staff in the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on S. 113, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act,” and with Representative Kevin P. Brady on the House companion measure, H.R. 2797.  This legislation would not impact the Government Pension Offset (GPO) but would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a more equitable, individualized calculation of Social Security benefits based on an individual’s entire work history. 

Currently, there is one (1) cosponsor on the Senate bill and seven (7) cosponsors on the House bill.

(2)  Opposing any legislation that would require the participation of public employees in Social Security
The FOP will continue to lobby against this scheme and oppose any legislation which would mandate participation in Social Security.

B.  Support the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
This legislation, which would guarantee the right of public safety employees to bargain collectively with their employers over hours, wages and conditions of employment, has not yet been introduced. 

C.  Support H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act”
We currently have six (6) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced, but we are working with staff in the office of several Senators in an effort to develop a Senate companion bill.

D. Support the H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act” and S. 985, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Equity Act”
We currently have a total of ten (10) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

We currently have a total of one (1) cosponsor on S. 985.

E.  Support the H.R. 324, legislation giving Federal law enforcement officers employed by the U.S. Department of Defense statutory arrest authority
We have eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

IV.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will take place Monday, 27 February and run through Wednesday, 29 February. On Monday, 27 February 2012 the National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW, at a time to be announced.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! You can find the contact information for your Representative at http://www.house.gov/ and the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/.  Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
 
Schedule
Monday, 27 February, Time TBD – Legislative briefing at District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW
Tuesday, 28 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
Wednesday, 29 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
 
Accommodations
The National Legislative Office has arranged for accommodations at the DuPont Circle Hotel located at 1500 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The hotel is located just one block from the Metro, making it easy for you to move around Capitol Hill and the city.

The rate is $183 per night. To be guaranteed this special rate you MUST CALL and identify yourself as part of the Grand Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police. Make your reservations now by calling (202) 483-6000.

The cut-off date for reservations is 1 February 2012, so don’t delay­–
make that reservation today!!!

V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
Make sure your friends and coworkers know about our weekly updates! The grassroots emails are the most accurate source of information about the FOP on the Hill­ covering information on meetings, bills, and events.
 
To add your name from our mailing list, please send an email to grassroots@fop.net with ADD and the State in which you live, in the Subject Line.

 
VI.      REDUCED NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway!
The National Fraternal Order of Police PAC has a number of 2011 commemorative NFOP PAC pocket knives remaining.  We also have one pair of Oakley Antix sunglasses, one pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses and two Oakley goggles available. All these Oakley products are valued over $100. 

For the next week, we will be giving these Oakley products away, until they are gone, to every 30th person who orders a NFOP PAC pocket knife!

You can purchase a NFOP PAC pocket knife at the reduced price of only $15 for the chance to win one of these Oakley products! You will be alerted over the phone if you are one of the four lucky winners!

To order a NFOP PAC pocket knife, please complete the order form below and email to glynch@fop.net or call 202-547-8189.

NFOP PAC Contribution Form

Please return the form and contribution to:

National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
328 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
 

Full Name___________________________________________________________________

Occupation________________________________Employer______________________

Address_________________________________________________________________

City__________________________State_________________Zip Code______________

Phone__________________________Email____________________________________

Number of Knives______________Contribution Amount____________Date___________

Credit Card Number_________________________________Exp. Date________________
(Please note that we can only accept VISA or Mastercard.)

Is the contributor a member of the FOP?______
 

  1. If Yes, please list:

FOP State Lodge_______________________________
FOP Local Lodge_______________________________
FOP Membership #______________________________

  1. If No, please list:

 FOP Member’s Name______________________________________________________

Your Relationship to the FOP Member________________________________________

Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  Contributions to the NFOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. You contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires PACs to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for reach individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.

Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office

Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 9 January 2012 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     UPDATED:
DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     Reduced NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway

 
I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY

DON’T FORGET TO BOOK ROOMS FOR DAY ON THE HILL!!!

National President Chuck Canterbury was in Washington D.C. to attend a meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Executive Director Jim Pasco and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, FL this weekend to participate in the meeting of the Eastern States Labor Coalition.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson met with staff in the offices of Senators Kelly A. Ayotte (R-NH) and John Cornyn III (R-TX) to discuss S. 306, the “National Criminal Justice Commission Act,” and S. 657, the “National Blue Alert Act.”

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch met with staff in the offices of Representatives Lloyd “Ted” Poe (R-TX) and Jason E. Chaffetz (R-UT) to discuss H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act.”

Legislative Liaison Lynch met with staff in the office of Representative Louis B. Gohmert, Jr. (R-TX) to discuss H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act.”

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Neither the House and the Senate conducted any business, with each chamber holding brief pro forma sessions so as to avoid having a formal recess.

III.       UPDATE ON FOP TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov .
 
With Congress out of session, no changes to the status of our top priorities were possible.

IV.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will take place Monday, 27 February and run through Wednesday, 29 February. On Monday, 27 February 2012 the National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW, at a time to be announced.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! You can find the contact information for your Representative at http://www.house.gov/ and the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/.  Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
 
Schedule
Monday, 27 February, Time TBD – Legislative briefing at District of Columbia Lodge #1 located at 711 4th Street, NW
Tuesday, 28 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
Wednesday, 29 February – Meetings with your Representative and Senators
 
Accommodations
The National Legislative Office has arranged for accommodations at the DuPont Circle Hotel located at 1500 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The hotel is located just one block from the Metro, making it easy for you to move around Capitol Hill and the city.

The rate is $183 per night. To be guaranteed this special rate you MUST CALL and identify yourself as part of the Grand Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police. Make your reservations now by calling (202) 483-6000.

The cut-off date for reservations is 1 February 2012, so don’t delay­
make that reservation today!!!

V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
Make sure your friends and coworkers know about our weekly updates! The grassroots emails are the most accurate source of information about the FOP on the Hill­ covering information on meetings, bills, and events.
 
To add your name from our mailing list, please send an email to grassroots@fop.net with ADD and the State in which you live, in the Subject Line.

 
VI.      REDUCED NFOP PAC Knives and Oakley Product Giveaway!
The National Fraternal Order of Police PAC has a number of 2011 commemorative NFOP PAC pocket knives remaining.  We also have one pair of Oakley Antix sunglasses, one pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses and two Oakley goggles available. All these Oakley products are valued over $100. 

For the next week, we will be giving these Oakley products away, until they are gone, to every 30th person who orders a NFOP PAC pocket knife!

You can purchase a NFOP PAC pocket knife at the reduced price of only $15 for the chance to win one of these Oakley products! You will be alerted over the phone if you are one of the four lucky winners!

To order a NFOP PAC pocket knife, please complete the order form below and email to glynch@fop.net or call 202-547-8189.

NFOP PAC Contribution Form

Please return the form and contribution to:

National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
328 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
 

Full Name___________________________________________________________________

Occupation________________________________Employer______________________

Address_________________________________________________________________

City__________________________State_________________Zip Code______________

Phone__________________________Email____________________________________

Number of Knives______________Contribution Amount____________Date___________

Credit Card Number_________________________________Exp. Date________________
(Please note that we can only accept VISA or Mastercard.)

Is the contributor a member of the FOP?______
 

  1. If Yes, please list:

FOP State Lodge_______________________________
FOP Local Lodge_______________________________
FOP Membership #______________________________

  1. If No, please list:

 FOP Member’s Name______________________________________________________

Your Relationship to the FOP Member________________________________________

Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  Contributions to the NFOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. You contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires PACs to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for reach individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.

Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office