Washington Watch: Legislative Update

For the Week of 13 June 2011
I.       Legislative News and Activity
II.      This Week in Congress
III.     Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     Special Thanks to the Kansas State FOP Lodge
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
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 met with Jim Sullivan, Chief of Staff to the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to discuss border issues.
 
Executive Director Pasco met with Bob Chaney, outgoing Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, to discuss continuity of liaison with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
 
Executive Director Pasco met with Michael Stenger, Assistant U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms for Intelligence for State and Local Coordination, about the coordination of threat information.
 
Executive Director Pasco spoke with Senator Richard M. Blumenthal (D-CT) to discuss upcoming legislation related to law enforcement.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson represented the FOP at a meeting of law enforcement organizations hosted by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, and his staff to discuss S. 1011, the “Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act.”
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson represented the FOP at a White House event to outline the benefits of the Administration’s plan to create a national public safety broadband network.  Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski all spoke at the event.  A series of moderated panels also discussed the issue at length.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson participated in a conference call with John T. Morton, Director, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss immigration enforcement policies and recent improvements to the Secure Communities program.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen met with staff in the offices of Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ) to discuss funding and security issues relating to the Amtrak Police Department.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen meet with Ian Glick, Chairman of the U.S. Park Police Labor Committee, regarding the USPP’s need to secure funding for a new helicopter.
 
Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a monthly meeting of criminal justice organizations to discuss action in State legislatures this year.
 
Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen, along with representatives from several labor stakeholder organizations, met with staff from the Minority House Rules Committee to discuss possible action on H.R. 567, the “Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.”
 

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. 2112, the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012.” The measure passed by a vote of 217-203.
 
The House considered and passed H.R. 2055, the “Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012.” The bill provides $143.9 billion in fiscal 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction and military housing. It would provide $129.7 billion for the VA, including $39.6 billion for veterans’ health programs in fiscal 2011. The bill would provide $58.1 billion in mandatory spending for veterans’ service-connected compensation, benefits and pensions. The total also includes $14 billion for military construction, $1.7 billion for military family housing and $582 million for base closure activities. The bill would provide $52.5 billion in advance appropriations for certain VA medical care accounts for fiscal 2013. The measure passed by a vote of 411-5.
 
The passage of these bills marks to completion of completion of work on two of the twelve appropriations bills for FY2012.

Action in House Committees
The Judiciary Committee considered and passed H. J. Res. 1, which proposes adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, by a vote of 20-12.
 
The Committee on Education and Workforce’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing entitled “Retirement Security: Challenges Confronting Pension Plan Sponsors, Workers, and Retirees.” The witnesses at the hearing included Alex Brill, Research Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Dennis Delaney, Executive Vice President, Ingram Industries, Inc.; James A. Klein, President, American Benefits Council; and Max Richtman
Executive Vice President and Acting CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled, “Emerging Threats to Rail Security.” Witnesses included John S. Pistole, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration; Stephen M. Lord, Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues,  U.S. Government Accountability Office; and John J. O’Connor, Vice President & Chief of Police,   Amtrak Police Department.
 
The Senate Judiciary considered and passed S. 1103, which would extend the tenure of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III for an additional two years, by a vote of 11-7. The bill has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week.

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 eighty-one (82) 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.
 
Representatives Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL), Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Tim Murphy (R-PA) all signed onto the bill this week.

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. We can expect this legislation to be introduced very soon.

(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 four (4) cosponsors on H.R. 1789.
 
Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) was added as a cosponsor this week.

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 nine (9) cosponsors on H.R. 327.
 
Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) was added as a cosponsor this week.

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 eight (8) cosponsors on H.R. 324.

Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) was added as a cosponsor this week.

A Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.

 
IV.       Special Thanks to the Kansas State FOP Lodge
The FOP would like to extend a very special thanks to the Kansas State FOP Lodge for their generous contributions to the FOP Foundation. They donated $100 in honor of Tom Penoza’s father and an additional $1,563 for the great efforts the FOP Foundation supports. Thank you for your support and leadership.
 
The FOP Foundation supports many projects and activities designed to honor America’s law enforcement officers, foster community involvement, and aid families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice. Some of these programs include Disaster Relief, the Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, Educational Programs, Critical Incident Programs, and grants to lodges and members.
 
 
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 Hill­covering 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.       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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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.  A contribution of $25 is suggested, but please contribute more if you are able, and a lesser amount if you are not.  Contributions to the NATL FOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal.  Your contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires political action committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each 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.

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