Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 5 December 2011 …

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.    Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     PHILLY PROSECUTORS DECIDE AGAINST SEEKING DEATH PENALTY OF COP-KILLER
V.      
FOP NEWS: DAY ON THE HILL 2012!!!
VI.     Do Your Friends Get Grassroots?
VII.    NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Continues
 

I.          LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
National President Chuck Canterbury was in Washington D.C. this week and attended, along with Executive Director Jim Pasco, a reception hosted by the U.S. Secret Service where they had conversations with numerous law enforcement executives and Administration officials.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Senator Amy J. Klobuchar (D-MN) to discuss oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FOP’s priorities in the Judiciary Committee.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Nathanael P. Tamarin, Special Assistant to the President of the United States, to discuss labor issues and pending nominations for law enforcement posts in the Administration.

II.        THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both chambers were in session this week.

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 10, the “Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act,” on a 241-184 vote.  The measure would prohibit the implementation of “major” Federal regulations promulgated by the executive branch without first getting Congressional approval.  The bill goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The House voted unanimously to go to a conference committee to reconcile the House- and Senate passed versions of H.R. 1540/S. 1867, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” and appointed its conferees.

Action in House Committees
The Committee on the Judiciary held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice and questioned U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., about “Operation Fast and Furious” which was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and rejected motions to proceed to the consideration of S. 1931, the “Temporary Tax Holiday and Government Reduction Act,” on a 22-76 vote and S. 1944, the “Middle Class Tax Cut Act,” on 50-48 vote.  Both bills would have extended the existing cut on payroll taxes and offered different plans to offset this cost.

The Senate moved to invoke cloture on the nomination of Richard Cordray, a former Ohio Attorney General, to be Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, but the motion was rejected on a 53-45 vote.  The FOP supports his nomination.  

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on the Judiciary considered and favorably reported S. 1886, the “Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act,” which would increase penalties on those who manufacture and sell counterfeit drugs and medicine by voice vote.  The measure will go to the full Senate for further consideration.

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 added one new cosponsor, Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), 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 H.R. 1540/S. 1867, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” which was passed by the Senate on a 93-7 vote.  The legislation will be reviewed by a joint house-Senate conference committee to reconcile the bill with the House version of the legislation that was passed earlier this year.  This vote may take place next week, but the White House has threatened to veto the measure over a controversial provision regarding the treatment of detainees suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorist activity.

IV.     PHILLY PROSECUTORS DECIDE AGAINST SEEKING DEATH PENALTY OF COP-KILLER:
        FOP says appeals process is too often an obstacle to justice    

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, expressed anger and frustration with news that Mumia Abu-Jamal, the criminal alias of cab driver Wesley Cook, who murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner almost thirty years ago, would not face the death penalty.

“While we understand and accept the decision of the Philadelphia District Attorney, it makes me angry that the courts and an endless appeals process will keep Cook from getting penalty he so richly deserves,” Canterbury said.  “This killer and his attorneys simply gamed the system to avoid the sentence his jury imposed.  Parsing jury instructions from thirty years ago when there is no question of guilt makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reconsider its decision and reinstate the death penalty for Officer Faulkner’s killer.  However, after review, the Third Circuit Court upheld its own decision, leaving prosecutors to decide whether to hold a new sentencing hearing or agree to a sentence of life.

The Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams, announced today, with Officer Faulkner’s widow Maureen and the Philadelphia Lodge #5 President, John McNesby, by his side, that his office would not continue to seek the death penalty in the case saying that it could then could go on for an “unknowable number of years.”  Mr. Williams asserted Abu-Jamal’s guilt and said that he would “remain behind bars for the rest of his life, [where he] belongs.”

President McNesby released a statement supporting the District Attorney’s decision, saying, “Confronted with the possibility of a new death penalty phase and the same protracted appeals Lodge #5 feels this is the right choice.  We hope Wesley Cook will fade into obscurity and the next time we hear from him is his obituary.”

“This is a travesty of justice, but the Office of the District Attorney, who pursued this case doggedly for thirty years, did not fail–the system failed them.  We reluctantly accept their decision,” Canterbury said.  “My thoughts and prayers today are with Maureen and all members of Danny’s family who have had to deal with this legal circus for three decades.  I hope the decision brings her at least some measure of closure.”

Maureen Faulkner issued her own statement, which can be found here: http://justice.danielfaulkner.com/statement-from-maureen-faulkner

Canterbury said that the National FOP, along with Philadelphia Lodge #5, would continue to support her and to honor the memory of their fallen brother, Daniel Faulkner.

V.      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.

VI.     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.

 
VII.      NFOP PAC 2011 Official Pocket Knife Campaign Continues
Pocket knives are still available and make great stocking stuffers! 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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