Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 14 November 2011 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     
VICE PRESIDENT VISITS OHIO WITH FOP: Canterbury Joins Vice President in Ohio After Collective Bargaining Victory
V.      Breakdown of State and Local Law Enforcement Program Funding for FY12
VI.     FOP NEWS: DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
VII.    Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VIII.   NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Continues
 

I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco met with Nathanael P. Tamarin, Special Assistant to the President of the United States, to discuss the FOP’s legislative priorities and the priorities of the Executive Branch.

Executive Director Pasco coordinated with White House officials and the U.S. Secret Service with respect to National President Chuck Canterbury’s trip to Ohio with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Executive Director Pasco met with Bruce Cohen, Chief Counsel to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Committee on the  Judiciary, about the FOP’s top legislative priorities.

Execuitve Director Pasco spoke with Kevin O’Connor, Assistant to the General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to discuss issues related to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) program.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson represented the FOP at the quarterly meeting of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust.

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

Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen and Legislative Liaison Lynch attended a monthly meeting of criminal justice organizations to discuss the Second Chance Act, new programs by the National Crime Prevention Council, and appropriations issues.

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a meeting to discuss proposed rules by the Department of Housing and Urban Development at the Mortgage Banker Association.

Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP in a meeting to discuss issues relating to officer safety and wellness.

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS

Both chambers were in session this week, and both chambers recessed on Friday and will remain in recess until after the Thanksgiving Day holiday.  There will ne no Legislative Weekly Update next week.  Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving to all!

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 674, the “3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act,” which would repeal a tax withholding requirement on vendors with Federal contracts, on a 422-0 vote.  The bill now goes to the President for his signature

The House considered and passed H.R. 822, the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act,” on a 272-154.  The bill, which would allow individuals with a concealed carry permit and a State-issued drivers’ license to carry a concealed firearm outside the jurisdiction of the State that issued the permit, will now go to the Senate for further action.

The House considered and agreed to the conference report on H.R. 2112, the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012,” which has also includes FY2012 funding for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation as well as their respectively related agencies, on a 298-121 vote. (See Item V. for additional information)

The House considered and rejected H.J. Res. 2, which proposes to amend the United States Consitution requiring the adoption of a balanced budget except in cases of war or impending war.  The resolution required a two-thirds majority to pass and failed on a 261-165 vote.

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed H.R. 1059 by unanimous consent.  The bill would make 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 will be returned to the House for further action.

The Senate considered and agreed to the conference report on H.R. 2112, the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012,” which has also includes FY2012 funding for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation as well as their respectively related agencies, on a 70-30 vote. (See Item V. for additional information).  The bill was transmitted to the President, who signed it into law.

The Senate began consideration of S. 1867, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” which is yet another version of a bill reauthorizing the programs of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for FY2012.  Like S. 1253, this legislation includes language similar to that in H.R. 324, which would provide statutory arrest authority to civilian law enforcement officers employed by DoD.  Final votes on this measure are expected to take place following the Thanksgiving recess.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on the Judiciary considered and favorably reported H.R. 2189, the “Death in Custody Reporting Act,” on a 13-5 vote.  The bill, on which the FOP has not taken a position, would cut by ten percent (10%) certain Federal funding for law enforcement agencies unless the agency certifies it is reporting “in custody deaths” to the U.S. Attorney General.

The Committee on the Judiciary considered and favorably reported S. 1793, the “Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act,” on a 16-2 vote.  The bill would grant the Federal Bureau of Investigation the authority to assist local and State authorities in investigations of mass killings.

The Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs held a hearing entitled, “The Fix Gun Checks Act: Better State and Federal Compliance, Smarter Enforcement,” to review issues related to improving background checks on persons seeking to purchase firearms.

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 eighteen (118) 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. 1867, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,”  In addition, staff in the National Legislative Office has been working with the office of Senator Leahy to develop S. Amdt. 1159 which would further clarify that LEOSA does apply to law enforcement officers employed by DoD and military personnel whose primary duty is law enforcement.  The amendment has been drafted and filed, but not yet formally accepted, and the bill is currently being debated on the floor.  Final votes on amendments and the final bill are expected to take place following the Thanksgiving Day recess.

IV.     VICE PRESIDENT VISITS OHIO WITH FOP: Canterbury Joins Vice President in Ohio After Collective Bargaining Victory
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, joined Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. aboard Air Force Two this morning on a trip to Euclid, Ohio to highlight the importance of the huge victory on Election Day which repealed a law designed to strip public safety officers of their rights as employees.  They were met there by Jay McDonald, President of the Ohio State Lodge, and one of the leaders in the successful public campaign to protect the existing rights of public safety officers.

“Our members here in Ohio really came together to defeat Issue 2 and roll back S.B. 5,” Canterbury said.  “We may have been outspent, but we were not outworked.  The margin of our victory should send a message that public safety officers, who put their lives on the line every day, are not going to let politicians make us into scapegoats.”

Canterbury, his counterpart with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold A. Schaitbarger, as well as the heads of many other public sector labor organizations, accompanied Vice President Biden on his visit to the State.  The event highlights the strong public support for public safety officers, their rights as employees, and the need to maintain sufficient Federal funding for public safety programs.

Canterbury and the IAFF strongly support the Administration’s proposal to provide $4 billion for the 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. 

“Earlier, the COPS Office announced that it had awarded more than 230 grants enabling more than one thousand officers to be hired, rehired or to avoid laying off law enforcement personnel,” Canterbury said.  “And yet we are still hearing from jurisdictions that are being forced to reduce the size of their police departments or cease investigating and  prosecuting ‘minor’ crimes.  Well, minor crimes have victims, too.”

V.      Breakdown of State and Local Law Enforcement Program Funding for FY12
The appropriations for FY12 for the U.S. Department of Justice were incorporated into H.R. 2112, the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012.”  Compared to previous years, the cuts to the programs that matter most to law enforcement are deep and will certainly make the lives of our officers and the citizens they protect more difficult.  However, considering that, earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill which eliminated two of these programs, the FOP and the law enforcement community as a whole believes the FY12 funding levels to be a significant achievement. 

The breakdown of that funding is as follows:

  • $352 million for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) programs
  • $240 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)
  • $141 million for the hiring program administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

These totals do reflect the “carve outs” included in the bill, but do not reflect that this spending bill did not include a separate line item to provide the administrative and salary expenses associated with these programs.  So the final dollar number that will be available to State and local agencies is not yet available.

VI.     FOP DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
The FOP Day on The Hill 2012 will begin on Monday, 27 February 2012. The National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing that day at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 at 711 4th Street, NW at a time to be announced.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.

Accommodations for Day on the Hill Participants
The Grand Lodge will arrange for a room block and this information will be provided as soon as it is available.

VII.    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.

 
VIII.      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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