Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 17 January 2011 …
 

I.               Legislative News and Activity  
II.             This Week in Congress
III.            Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     FOP NEWS:
FOP Top Priority Introduced in New Congress: H.R. 327, “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act”
IV.     National Blue Alert Legislation Introduced in the House
V.      DAY ON THE HILL 2011!!!
VI.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco attended a Verizon event honoring J. Michael Hickey, Vice President Government Relations for National Security. At the event, Executive Director Pasco also thanked Peter Davidson, Senior Vice President for Federal Government Relations, for Verizon’s generous support of the FOP Foundation and the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

Executive Director Pasco met with the U.S. Secret Service Diplomatic Security Service and representatives of the office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to discuss security for the President’s State of the Union address.
 
Executive Director Pasco discussed the FOP’s concerns with the interpretation of PL 111-272, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act (LEOSA) Improvements Act with Bruce Cohen, Majority Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Executive Director Pasco coordinated with the Labor Chairman of the U.S. Park Police on the Department of Justice investigation of four USPP detectives.
 
Executive Director Pasco also gave numerous radio and television interviews regarding the impact of the financial crisis on police departments nationwide.
 
Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Jessica Caswell met with Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY) to discuss the National Blue Alert legislation.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson met with staff in the office of Senator Thomas A. Coburn, MD (R-OK) to discuss issues of interest to the FOP that will be moving through the Committee on the Judiciary.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Caswell met with Richard Hoar, Legislative Director to Representative Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) and Kerry Kinirons, Staff Director Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Committee on Homeland Security about issues of interest to the FOP.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen participated in a conference call with stakeholder groups to discuss the public’s perception of public employee pension systems and transparency.  National Legislative Office staff will be participating in a separate meeting next week to discuss this issue with other labor organizations.

II.  THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
The House resumes legislative action in an abbreviated session this week, with the primary focus on efforts to repeal the health care bill which was signed into law in the previous Congress. The Senate remains in recess.

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 2, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” which would repeal PL 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and PL 111-152, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, on a 245-189 vote.  The measure will be transmitted to the Senate, though further action is unlikely.

Representative Robert E. Filner (D-CA) introduced two bills of great interest to the FOP–H.R. 324, a bill that would give civilian law enforcement officers working for the U.S. Department of Defense statutory arrest authority, and H.R. 327, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act,” which is a top legislative priority.

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 “Social Security Fairness Act”
This legislation, which would repeal both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), has not yet been reintroduced.  Staff from the National Legislative Office are engaged with staff in both the House and the Senate to get these bills introduced quickly.

(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 the “Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act”
This legislation, which would provide a minimum level of procedural protections for law enforcement officers accused of administrative wrongdoing because of the gravity of potential harm to officers created by this lack of uniform safeguards, has not yet been introduced.  National Legislative Office staff are engaged with staff in both the House and the Senate to get these bills introduced.

D.  Support H.R. 327, the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act”
This legislation, which would provide would provide 6 (c) benefits to approximately 30,000 Federal law enforcement officers who currently do not have them, was introduced on Wednesday, 21 January.  The bill currently has no cosponsors.

IV.     FOP NEWS: FOP Top Priority Introduced in New Congress: H.R. 327: Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded the introduction of H.R. 327, the �Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act� by Representative Robert E. Filner (D-CA).  This legislation would expand the definition of �law enforcement officer� for salary and retirement benefits to include all Federal law enforcement officers. It would also save taxpayers’ money and enhance public safety and national security.

�These dedicated men and women put their lives on the line as law enforcement officers for different agencies throughout the Federal government,� Canterbury said.  �Agencies like the Department of Defense and Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, FBI, U.S. Postal Police, Federal Protective Service, National Institute of Health, US Mint, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. They serve as our Federal government�s first line of defense, and are asked to face the same hazards as their State and local counterparts.  When one of them falls in the line of duty,
their names are added to the National Law Enforcement Officers� Memorial here in Washington, DC.�

Due to their high level of training and the dangerous nature of the profession, Congress rightfully determined that Federal law enforcement officers should receive enhanced salary and retirement benefits compared to other Federal employees.  However, Federal law enforcement officers classified as GS-0083 police officers were not initially covered. Over time, Congress has partially corrected this injustice by granting GS-0083 officers in some agencies, including the U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service Uniformed Division, law enforcement officer (LEO) status for salary and retirement benefits, but today nearly 30,000 of these dedicated Federal law enforcement officers do not receive these benefits.  This despite the fact that Congress has even granted LEO status to Air Traffic Controllers and many employees of the Bureau of Prisons (such as cooks), whose primary duties are not law enforcement related.

�Since the OPM will not amend its outdated LEO definition and the judicial review process has failed, the best and fairest remedy to this injustice is legislation amending U.S. Code to grant all GS-0083 officers LEO status,� Canterbury said.  �This legislation would provide all of these  brave Federal officers with 6(c) benefits and the ability to retire after twenty (20) years of service at the age of fifty (50), or twenty-five (25) years of service at any age guaranteeing them the enhanced salary and retirement benefits they deserve.�

V.     National Blue Alert Legislation Intriduced in the House
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded the introduction of H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act.”  The bill would establish a “National Blue Alert” system for the local, regional and national dissemination of time-sensitive information to help identify a suspect in the event that a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

The legislation was introduced by Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY) on Thursday, 20 January 2011. The National Legislative Office continues to work with Representative Grimm in getting a bipartisan support and cosponsors for the bill in the House.  Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Minority Whip, championed this same bill last session and continues to be a major supporter.

In the Senate, staff in the National Legislative Office continues to work in a bipartisan fashion with Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC).

The “Blue Alert” would mirror the existing “Amber Alert” system by using existing communications networks to immediately disseminate sensitive information to appropriate law enforcement and other public agencies when an officer goes missing, is severely injured or killed in the line of duty. Specifically, this bill would authorize $5 million dollars through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in U.S. Department of Justice to encourage, enhance, and integrate “Blue Alert” plans through a system of training and support for State and local law enforcement units.   For those States with such systems in place, an additional $5 million is authorized to improve them with new technologies.

VI.    FOP NEWS: Day on the Hill 2011: 14-16 February!!!

Your participation in this year’s Day on the Hill event could not be more important.  Following a historic mid-term election, the 112th Congress was sworn in this week, resulting a change of control of the U.S. House of Representatives and a dynamic shift in the political climate on Capitol Hill.  We need to make our voices heard at the start of the Congress, and work hard to ensure that our issues are considered in the next two years.  Please attend if you can–we need your participation!!!

The FOP Day on The Hill 2011 will begin on Monday, 14 February 2011.  The National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing on our legislative agenda at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 at 711 4th Street, NW.  The briefing will take place on Monday afternoon at 3pm and last approximately one hour.  Additional details will be forthcoming.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 15-16 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 National Legislative Office has arranged for accommodations at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza ( http://www.hamiltonhoteldc.com/) at  14th & K Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20005.  The hotel is located just one block from the Metro, making it easy for you to move around Capitol Hill and the city.

The rate is $181 per night, and you must identify yourself as part of the National Legislative Office to get this special rate.  Make your reservations now by calling 202-682-0111, or through the website above. 

The cut-off date for reservations is 1 February 2011, so don’t delay–make that reservation today!!!

VI.     FOP NEWS: 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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