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FLEOA Legislative Update

 The holiday season has begun and I thought I would take this opportunity to update all of our members on FLEOAs ongoing efforts and multiple successes in protecting your interests, benefits, and pay.  Last week, I attended the Attorney General's Holiday Party where I had the opportunity to chat with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about FLEOA and our shared opposition to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. I was also able to affirm our ongoing alliances with other associations (including NOBLE, HAPCOA, and NNALE) whose executives were attending the celebration

 

The media has been heavily focused on Congressional Tax Reform and the looming government shutdown. We have alerted both the House and the Senate of our concerns over the proposed elimination of the exclusion for qualified moving expense reimbursements and, as far as the threatened shutdown, we have been there before and survived. I must remind you that this Congress is looking for any savings to offset the loss of revenue from tax cuts. Therefore trying to get members to sponsor bills that spend additional money on government benefits is extremely difficult, if not impossible. 

 

Under the leadership of V.P. Dominic Stokes, the Legislative Committee has expanded to 25 members. Committee members now accompany me to Hill meetings and help author endorsement and opposition letters on legislation.  For example this past week, we endorsed a bill criminalizing the use of illegal substances as inducements to the trafficking of sex slaves. We are actively endorsing multiple bills including ones that prevent money laundering, providing tax exemptions for federal agents in war zones, the Fair RETIRE Act, eliminating Social Security's Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision, Asset Forfeiture and the Postal Bill. In addition, the Legislative Committee will be polling Agency Presidents to determine the extent that pay caps are penalizing the proper reimbursement of overtime pay.

 

Two weeks ago, President Nate Catura, Chris Granberg and I met with House Leadership, House Judiciary, Senate Judiciary and House Law Enforcement Caucus members and staff.  We discussed the Tax Bill, Budget proposals detrimental to law enforcement, and pending legislation like the Probation Officer Protection Act and the Secret Service Overtime Act.  Whenever we meet with leadership, we re-iterate how law enforcement should be exempted from any proposed changes in retirement benefits as part of any future budget resolutions or government spending plans. This is because: we have a mandatory age 57 retirement, we can't extend our retirement dates if retirement uses a "high 5" calculation, we have already paid for the Social Security Supplemental and our retirement fund is solvent!

 When he retires next year, we will be losing LE Caucus Leader Rep Dave Reichert (R-WA) who is a former sheriff and steadfast supporter of Law Enforcement. We had a very productive meeting with another member of the Law Enforcement Caucus, Val Demings (D-FL), who is the former Chief of Police from Orlando. In addition to other meetings, we also met with Buddy Carter (R-GA) who represents Savanah and FLETC.  He has sponsored a Bill to Recalculate Veteran's Benefits which will impact on many of our member's pensions.

 

The cornerstone of Nate's visit was his awarding US Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner with the FLEOA President' Award for their bravery when they responded to the June shooting at a Congressional Baseball Practice. This was a poignant reminder of our members protecting others!

 

Last year, FLEOA successfully participated in the passage of an unprecedented amount of legislation.  Through our legislative endorsements, our partnership with other law enforcement associations (Like FOP, NAPO, NNOAC, NSA, IACP etc.) and our Police Week visits to instrumental Members of Congress we witnessed the passage of 16 Significant pieces of legislation like: The "Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act," the "Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act," the "Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act," the "FLETC Reform and Improvement Act," the "FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act,"  and the "Overtime Pay for Protective Services Act."

 

In this Congress, we have seen 4 of our priority legislative endorsements become law: The "PSOB Improvements Act," the "American Law Enforcement Heroes Act," the "Rapid DNA Act," and the "PROTECT Our Children Act."  The "Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act" is set for final passage and be sent to the President before Christmas.  Seven other FLEOA such as the "Thin Blue Line Act," the "Probation Officer Protection Act," the "Honoring Hometown Heroes Act," and the "Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act"- have each passed one Chamber of Congress, and several could go to the President before the end of the year

 

Members have been asking about another bill that we have been following, The "TSP Modernization Act of 2017" which recently passed and was signed into law in November. This b new law will allow employees and retirees to make multiple age-based withdrawals from their Thrift Savings Plan accounts and remain eligible for partial withdrawals after they leave government.  In addition, retirees will be able to make multiple partial post-separation withdrawals. Also, those receiving monthly payments could change the amount of annuity at any time and could change payment frequency.

 

Before the end of the year, we will be meeting with several agency heads and trying to schedule a follow-up meeting with the White House Liaison with Law Enforcement to discuss, amongst other issues,  24/7 carriage of weapons by Postal Police, Veteran's Affairs Police, and other agencies that put unarmed officers in dangerous situations.

 

In closing, besides our legislative successes, this has been a year filled with tragedy. We have lost brave agents, and hurricanes have left Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands in devastation. The recent Wildfires in California remind us how violent nature can become and that everything can change in a minute. FLEOA tries to continue to be watchful and have your backs! Have a safe and happy Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and New Year!

 

Pat O'Carroll
Executive Director