Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 28 March 2011 …
 

I.       Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     

V.      FOP NEWS: POLICE OFFICERS TO LOSE RIGHTS: S.B. 5 Passes Ohio Legislature
VI.    FOP teams up with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
VII.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!

I.   LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco met with the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to discuss the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act issues.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Assistant Senate Sergeant At Arms Mike Stenger about State and local law enforcement coordination.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Christie McCampbell, former Assistant Secretary of State for Narcotics and Anti-Terrorism, on the issue of standards for officers from US departments seeking employment with State Department security contractors.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen, as well as representatives from several law enforcement organizations, met with staff from the offices of Senators Mark L. Pryor (D-AR) and Dr. Thomas A. Coburn (R-OK) to discuss funding reductions in the FY11 budget as well as potential funding levels in FY12.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson met with staff in the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein to discuss the re-introduction of the Social Security Fairness Act.

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended meetings with staff for Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Deborah A. Stabenow (D-MI), and Jesse F. Bingaman, Jr. (D-NM) to discuss S. 347, the “Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.”

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended a meeting with staff for Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and several labor organizations to discuss H.R. 567, the “Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.”

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen attended a congressional briefing on drug courts.

Legislative Liaison Jessica Caswell joined discussions with many other national groups to discuss National Missing Children’s Day on May 25, sponsored by the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children. The following states are in need of a “Take 25” event: Idaho, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. Please see below for more details on the “Take 25” campaign.

Legislative Liaisons Caswell and Bock-Nielsen met with staff in Senator Christopher A. Coons (D-DE) to discuss the FOP’s top legislative priorities and the COPS hiring program.

II.  THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and Senate were in Session.

Action in the House
The House considered and amended H.R. 658, the “Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization and Reform Act.”  A final vote on the bill is expected today.

Action in House Committees
The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled “Public Safety Communications: Are the Needs of Our First Responders Being Met?”

Action in the Senate
The Senate began consideration of S. 493, the “SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act.”

Action Senate Committees
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the nomination of Donald B. Verrilli Jr. to be the next Solicitor General of the United States.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing entitled “Ten Years After 9/11: A Report From the 9/11 Commission Chairmen.” The hearing included testimony from Thomas H. Kean, former Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Vice Chairman the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
                                                           

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 met with staff in the office of the bill’s long-time Senate sponsor, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to discuss its reintroduction and ways in which the overall cost of the bill could be reduced.

In addition, National Legislative Office staff are actively working with staff in the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on S. 113, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act.”  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. 

The FOP has always been supportive of this legislation and will continue to work with Senator Hutchison and Representative Kevin P. Brady (R-TX) who has previously championed the bill in the House.  Currently, there are no cosponsors on the 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 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 is engaged with staff in both the House and the Senate to get these bills introduced.

D.  Support the H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act”
We currently have a total of eight (8) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been reintroduced.

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 a total of four (4) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

A Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.

IV.          FOP President Chuck Canterbury Quoted Extensively about Attacks on Collective Bargaining

President Chuck Canterbury was quoted extensively regarding the attacks on collective bargaining in this morning’s issue of Politico. A new class of Republican governors has led an attack on collective bargaining rights for public employees, leaving many in public safety to wonder if they will be next.

To see the full article, please click here .

V.      FOP NEWS: POLICE OFFICERS TO LOSE RIGHTS: S.B. 5 Passes Ohio Legislature

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, pledged to continue the fight against legislation that would diminish the rights of law enforcement officers in the State of Ohio.

“This bill was not about saving money or balancing budgets,” Canterbury said.  “This was political payback to public sector unions who have been painted as an enemy of the people and the communities they serve so loyally.  This law is unjust, it is bad policy and it will not stand for long.”

The State Assembly passed S.B. 5 and sent the measure to Governor John R. Kasich (R), who is expected to sign the bill today.  Once signed into law, more than 360,000 public employees–including law enforcement officers–will lose rights they have had for decades.

“Those who would endanger public safety by pandering to a political fad, those who would put our streets and neighborhoods in jeopardy to grab a headline or achieve an ideological goal have betrayed the public trust and there will be consequences for these politicians who have taken us down this reckless path,” Canterbury said.  “The National FOP stands with its brothers and sisters in Ohio and across the United States–this fight is not over.”

VI.  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 and 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.

VII. 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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