Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 23 May 2011 …
I.       Legislative News and Activity
II.      This Week in Congress
III.     Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
 
IV.     FOP Foundation Launches New Website
V.      Wisconsin judge strikes down collective bargaining restrictions 
VI.     NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Update
VII.    National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!

I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco had an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) on increased allegations of police brutality.

Executive Director Pasco had an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on disaster relief efforts.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson represented the FOP on a conference call with John T. Morton, Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the US Department of Homeland Security regarding the Secure Communities Program.

Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a meeting with staff for Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) to discuss H.R. 567, the �Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.�
 
Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a meeting with several labor stakeholder organizations to discuss continuing attacks on State and local pensions.

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

Action in the House
The House considered and passed S. 990, a bill to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 by a voice vote.

The House considered and passed S. 1407, the �Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act,� by a voice vote. This legislation increases the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.

The House considered and passed H.R. 1627, the �Honoring American Veterans Act,� by a 380-0 vote. This legislation will allow for certain requirements for the placement of monuments in Arlington National Cemetery.

The House considered and passed H.R. 1383, �Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act,� by a 389-0 vote.

This legislation will temporarily preserve higher rates for tuition and fees for education programs at private institutions of higher learning pursued by individuals enrolled in the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs prior to the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010.

The House considered and passed H.R. 1657, a bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to revise the enforcement penalties for misrepresentation of a business concern as a small business concern owned and controlled by veterans or as a small business concern owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans by a 385-1 vote. 

Action House Committees
The House Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on draft legislation relating to detention of dangerous aliens. Witnesses at the hearing included Executive Associate Director Gary Mead, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Chief Douglas Baker, Fort Myers, FL, and Deputy Legal Director Ahilan Arulanantham, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled, “Threats to the American Homeland after Killing Bin Laden: An Assessment.”

 Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed S. 990 the �PATRIOT Act Extension Senate Legislative Vehicle,� by a 72-23 vote. This legislation provides for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. The bill, which passed the House last week, will now go to the President for his signature

Action Senate Committees
S. 890, the �Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act,� was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without any amendments and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. This legislation will establish the supplemental fraud fighting account.

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 H.R. 1332 “Social Security Fairness Act”
We currently have seventy-six (76) cosponsors on H.R. 1332.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who has limited voting rights on the floor.

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.  Currently, there are no cosponsors on the bill.

The FOP is also working with Representative Kevin P. Brady (R-TX) on a companion bill to S. 113.

(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 H.R. 1789, the “State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability and Due Process Act”
We currently have three (3) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.

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 eight (8) cosponsors on H.R. 327.

We currently have no cosponsors 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 a total of seven (7) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

A Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.

 IV.     FOP FOUNDATION LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE                                             
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, hailed the launch of the new and improved Fraternal Order of Police Foundation website today.
 
�The website has a fresh and modern look to it. We all should be proud of the new image of our FOP Foundation. The FOP Foundation honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and supports officers in need,� said Canterbury.
 
The Foundation funds many projects and activities designed to honor America�s law enforcement officers, foster community involvement, and aid families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Some of these programs include Disaster Relief, Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, Educational Programs, Critical Incident Programs, and grants to lodges and members.
 
�The Foundations keystone event is the Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service.  This Service honors those who gave their lives and seeks to assuage the grief of those families who lost a loved one in the line of duty.  This event brings together the expanded law enforcement family — the survivors, officers, and friends whom these heroes have left behind,� said Canterbury. 

�Our national leaders — the President of the United States, Cabinet members, Members of Congress, heads of various enforcement agencies and major recording artists – join tens of thousands of officers at this solemn event to pay tribute to the fallen and to offer words of comfort to their surviving family members in attendance,� said Canterbury.
 
�Please go to our new NFOP Foundation website, http://www.fop.net/causes/foundation/, and become knowledgeable about the Foundation,� said Canterbury.
 
The FOP Foundation is a non-profit corporation with an Internal Revenue Code of 501(c)(3), so your donations are tax-deductible

 
V.      Wisconsin judge strikes down collective bargaining restrictions
A Wisconsin judge struck down that state’s controversial new collective bargaining law Thursday, ruling that GOP legislators failed to provide sufficient public notice before passing the measure this year.

Judge Maryann Sumi had previously issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the measure from taking effect.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on June 6 to determine whether it will consider the case.

The law, which sharply curbs the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, has sparked an extremely heated, high-stakes political fight. Republicans insist that the measure is necessary to control skyrocketing public employee benefit costs and close a $137 million budget shortfall. Democrats argue that it is little more than an attempt to gut public sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.

Similar battles are being fought in other state legislatures across the country.

Under the Wisconsin law, all public workers except police and firefighters would be required to cover more of their retirement plan contributions and health care premiums.

Raises would be tied to the rate of inflation, unless state voters approve an exception. Unions would be required to hold a new certification vote every year and would no longer be allowed to collect dues from workers’ paychecks.

State Democratic leaders claim that Republican legislators violated the state’s open meetings law by calling a committee meeting to amend GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill without providing the necessary public 24-hour advance notice. Democrats say they were given only two hours notice.

The amended bill, which had been stalled for weeks by 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to prevent a quorum — and thus a vote on the measure — then sailed through with an easy vote on March 9.

The State House of Representatives passed the bill, and Walker signed it into law March 11.   

To see the original article; please click here
 

VI.       NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Update
Pocket knives are selling fast! Get your pocket knife now before they sell out! For information on the knife and how to order, please visit our website at http://www.fop.net/legislative/pac/knife.shtml or contact Jessica Caswell at (202) 547-8189.

 
VII.     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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