Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 17 October 2011 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     FOP-IAFF Team Up with Vice President and Senate Leaders on Public Safety
V.      Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VI.     NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Continues
VII.    National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!
 

I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
The National Fraternal Order of Police participated in an IAFF-hosted event featuring Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.  Members from the Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Lodges also attended the event.  See Item IV for additional details.

Executive Director Jim Pasco had extensive conversations with the Administration and Senate leadership regarding the IAFF-hosted event with the Vice President.  See Item IV for additional details.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen attended the monthly meeting of criminal justice organizations to discuss appropriations issues and legislation to combat counterfeit and pirated items from “rogue” websites.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch met with staff in the office of Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) to discuss the reintroduction of the “Officer Daniel Faulkner Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act.”

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Grace Lynch met with staff in the office of Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY) to discuss H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act.”

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
The Senate was in session this week, while the House was in recess.  The House will be in session next week, while the Senate is scheduled to be in recess.

Action in the Senate
The day after the FOP-IAFF event, the Senate considered and rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to debate S. 1723, the “Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act,” on a 50-50 vote, effectively killing the legislation.  The bill, which the FOP strongly supported, would have provided $4 billion for the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and $1 billion for similar programs administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

The Senate debated H.R. 2112, the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012,” which has been amended to include the FY2012 appropriations for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation as well as their respectively related agencies.  The Senate successfully invoked cloture on the measure by an 82-16 vote and is expected to pass the legislation sometime Friday after which the chamber will go into recess until November.

The Senate considered and rejected S. Amdt. 173 offered by Senator James H. Webb, Jr. (D-VA) to create a National Commission on Criminal Justice.  The amendment, which is very similar to the FOP-backed S. 306, was unable to muster the sixty (60) votes necessary to defeat a filibuster and failed on a 57-43 vote.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs considered, amended and favorably reported H.R. 1059, which makes permanent the authority to redact financial disclosure reports filed by judicial officers or employees if such disclosure would reveal personal and sensitive information that might endanger the individual or their family members, on a voice vote.  The measure now moves to the Senate floor for further action.

 
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, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We have one hundred and seventeen (117) 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. 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).

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 are no cosponsors 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 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 have eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 324

A Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced, but similar language has been included as a provision in S. 1253, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.”

IV.      FOP-IAFF TEAM UP WITH VICE PRESIDENT AND SENATE LEADERS ON PUBLIC SAFETY

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded his counterpart, Harold A. Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), for hosting an event in Washington, D.C., with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Senate leaders to highlight the Administration’s proposal to provide Federal assistance to local and State public safety agencies.

“Thousands of law enforcement and other public safety officers have been laid off around the country,” Canterbury said. “This is making our streets and neighborhoods less safe and putting emergency responders at greater risk because we do not have the resources we need to protect the public.”

Today’s event is a follow up to a similar event held last week at a fire department in Flint, Michigan.  National President Canterbury and General President Schaitberger both accompanied Vice President Biden and spoke in support of the Administration’s proposal to provide $4 billion for the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and $1 billion for similar programs administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Maryland State Lodge President John A. “Rodney” Barlett, Jr., a twenty-one year veteran of Prince George’s County Police Department and a former Sheriff, spoke on behalf of the National FOP at today’s event, telling the officers and firefighters in attendance:

Many of the politicians working in this building say that we simply have to do more with less.  More with less.  We keep hearing that, but what they do NOT tell you is what that really means.  It means there will be less cops on the street and more crime in your neighborhoods.  It means more time to get a fire under control because there will be less firefighters and equipment responding when your home catches fire.  It means more crimes will go uninvestigated and less criminals caught and prosecuted.  It  means your family will be less safe and the officers on the street will be in more danger.                                          

The hiring program administered by the COPS Office has been part of our nation’s crime-fighting strategy for nearly two decades.  Community oriented policing, zero tolerance, the broken windows theory, cops on the street.   Abandoning these approaches is not a new public safety strategy, this is a public safety disaster.  We cannot let this happen to our communities.

National Vice President Ed Brannigan was in attendance, as were several other members from the Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Lodges.

The event was streamed live at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/back-to-work-act

“We are very grateful to Vice President Biden and our allies in the Senate who are supporting us while we try and keep the streets safe,” Canterbury said. 

UPDATEThe day after the this event, the Senate considered and rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to debate S. 1723, the “Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act,” on a 50-50 vote, effectively killing the legislation. 

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.      NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Continues
Pocket knives are still available! For information on the knife and how to order, please visit our website at http://www.fop.net/legislative/pac/knife.shtml or contact the Grace Lynch at (202) 547-8189.

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

Grand Lodge Website | Legislative Office

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