Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 14 February 2011 …
 

I.          Legislative News and Activity  
II.       This Week in Congress
III.      Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     COPS Funding Restored in House CR
V.        FOP teams up with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
VI.        FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
National President Chuck Canterbury and National Secretary Pat Yoes joined Executive Director Jim Pasco and the staff of the National Legislative Office for the legislative briefing, which kicked off the annual FOP Day on the Hill event.  More than 200 officers were in Washington to support the FOP’s legislative agenda.  Terrance W. Gainer, Sergeant-at-Arms of the U.S. Senate and a long-time FOP member, was our guest speaker.

National President Chuck Canterbury, Executive Director Jim Pasco and the rest of the legislative office attended many events throughout the week in relation to the FOP’s annual Day on the Hill event.

Executive Director Jim Pasco hosted a fundraiser for Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), one of the FOP’s strongest supporters on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with National President Chuck Canterbury in attendance.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen attended a meeting of criminal justice organizations to discuss President Obama’s budget proposal for FY12. Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Jim Burch led the meeting, taking questions from the group and explaining some of the proposed changes to the budget.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Jessica Caswell met with staff in the office of Representative Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY) to discuss his amendment to the FY11 Continuing Resolution restoring funds for the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) as well as other FOP priorities.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson met with representatives of other law enforcement organizations to discuss strategies for protecting funding for the COPS office, the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) and other programs in the budget and appropriations bills for the next fiscal year.

NFOP PAC Director Jessica Caswell and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen attended a fundraiser for Congresswomen Judy Chu (D-CA). Congresswomen Chu has been a strong supporter of the Fraternal Order of Police and serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Crime.

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended a briefing led by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce staff on state and local pension issues.
 
Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended a meeting of criminal justice organizations and staff from the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Staff from the Committee gave an overview of the agenda for the upcoming session and answered questions regarding legislative issues.

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended a meeting with Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) and several labor organization to discuss HR 567, “Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.”
 
II.  THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and Senate were in session.

Action in the House
The House considered HR 514, the “FISA Sunset Extensions Act of 2011,” that would extend three expiring provisions of the anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act passing with vote of 279-143.

The House continued debate of HR 1, the “Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution,” that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. Representative Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY) introduced an amendment which the FOP strongly supported, to the Continuing Resolution restoring $298 million in funds for the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) which passed with a vote of 228-203. This bill is expected to pass before the close of business on Friday.

Action in the Senate
The Senate voted on S. 223, the “FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act,” by 87-8 to pass the measure several hours after overwhelmingly voting to invoke cloture, thus limiting debate, on the underlying bill by a vote of 96-2.

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 the “Social Security Fairness Act”
This legislation, which would repeal both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), has not yet been reintroduced.  Staff from the National Legislative Office are engaged with staff in both the House and the Senate to get these bills introduced quickly.

(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 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.  The National Legislative Office staff has already contacted key Members of Congress regarding this legislation and we are working on an introduction strategy.

C.  Support the “Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act”
This legislation, which would provide a minimum level of procedural protections for law enforcement officers accused of administrative wrongdoing because of the gravity of potential harm to officers created by this lack of uniform safeguards, has not yet been introduced.  National Legislative Office staff are engaged with staff in both the House and the Senate to get these bills introduced.

D.  Support  H.R. 327, the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act”
We currently have six (6) cosponsors on H.R. 327. 

This legislation, which would provide would provide 6 (c) benefits to approximately 30,000 Federal law enforcement officers who currently do not have them, was introduced in the House on 19 January 2011.  National Legislative Office staff are engaged with staff in the Senate to get a companion introduced.

IV. COPS Funding Restored in House CR

National President Credits FOP members on Capitol Hill

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded the 228 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their vote yesterday to restore $298 million to the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

�Reducing our budgets, especially in times like these is critical,� Canterbury said.  �But it is irresponsible to reduce the safety of the public in our communities. More cops means less crime, so in a very real sense, cuts like these open the door to crime.�

Representatives David G. Reichert (R-WA) and Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY) both introduced amendments to H.R. 1, the �Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.�  This legislation will fund the operation of the Federal government until the end of this fiscal year.  The Weiner version of the amendment was voted on and passed 228-203.
                                                                                                  
�I think all of the FOP members in Washington this week made the difference,� Canterbury said.  The FOP was holding its annual Day on the Hill event, and had more than two hundred officers from around the country on Capitol Hill to lobby their Members of Congress.

�The COPS program is and has been an effective part of our national crime-fighting strategy for almost twenty years,� Canterbury said.  �Our members know how important it is for their local departments and communities, and I think they had a real impact on yesterday�s vote.�

The House continues to debate H.R. 1 and is expected to complete work on it before next week�s recess in observance of President�s Day.

V. FOP teams up with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Fraternal Order of Police has joined forces with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) on their safety prevention resource, Take 25 campaign. Each lodge, State and local, should have received a packet about this campaign and how you and your lodge can help. The Take 25 campaign was created in honor of National Missing Children�s Day annually recognized on May 25th. The Take 25 campaign provides free resources and child safety information leading up to the month of May to local communities. Please feel free to contact Jessica Caswell in the NFOP Legislative office at (202) 547-8189 if you did not receive information or have any questions.

VI.      FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!
Because our grassroots are so important to our efforts on Capitol Hill, we have created a National Legislative Office Facebook page to keep our members informed.

Take a moment now to join our Facebook page to stay current with the latest information from Washington, D.C.  Please feel free to join in any of our discussions and don’t forget to invite all your FOP brothers and sisters to join!

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