Law Enforcement Legislative Updates

Since the last issue of The 1811, the FLEOA initiated Officer Safety Act (S. 2276, H.R. 4309) was introduced in both the Senate and the House. Additionally, the FLEOA legislative team has been engaged with staff from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding protecting federal law enforcement officers' pay and benefits.

New Laws

The US Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, P.L. 112-104, honors the agency's proud legacy by directing the Treasury to mint commemorative coins. One third of the proceeds above $5 million will go to the FLEOA Foundation. The Brian A. Terry Memorial Act, P.L. 112-113, honors hero BP Agent Brian Terry's sacrifice by naming a Border Patrol Station after him.

New Bills

On March 29, 2012, the FLEOA initiated Officer Safety Act of 2012 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and in the House by Congressman David Reichert (R-WA). The bill would allow federal law enforcement officers charged with a state crime for intervening in a crime of violence to have their case removed to federal court for adjudication. The Senate version of the bill passed successfully out of the Judiciary Committee during National Police Week.

On February 14, 2012, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act of 2012, which would improve the death and disability benefits for public safety officers by expanding the scope of beneficiaries and increasing the amounts payable. On June 6, 2012, the House bill was marked up and ordered to be reported by the House Judiciary Committee. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) had previously introduced a related bill in the Senate on October 11, 2011.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the FOCUS Act on February 2, 2012, and Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced it in the House on March 8, 2012. The bill seeks to repeal the Lacey Act, and in doing so, disarm and strip the authority from NOAA and FWS law enforcement officers. As a result of the sustained combined efforts of FLEOA and NWROA national officers, Congressman Broun withdrew his bill during its markup. Prior to withdrawing the bill, Congressman Broun attempted to correct the injurious part of the bill by filing an amendment to restore the carry authority for NOAA and FWS agents/officers.

Updates on Earlier Bills

The House passed the National Blue Alert Act of 2011 on May 15, 2012, and the Senate received the bill the following day. This bill, sponsored by Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) in the House and Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) in the Senate, would establish a national communications network to disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is injured or killed in the line of duty. Before the bill passed the House in May, the Senate bill had been reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall.

With the strong support of FLEOA, the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act of 2011 passed the Senate in March 2012 and was reported by the House Judiciary Committee in June 2012. The bill would make it a federal crime, with penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine, to traffic in counterfeit drugs. Current law prohibits trafficking in counterfeit goods, including drugs, but imposes a penalty of only 10 years imprisonment.

The Senate passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 on April 25, 2012. In addition to reforming the Postal Service, this bill would amend the Federal Employees Compensation Act to reduce benefits for disabled employees to 50% of their pre-disability pay upon retirement and would also cut back on other benefits under that program. FLEOA supported an amendment that would have mitigated the effects of this bill on certain law enforcement officers, but the amendment was rejected.

PLEASE take the time to call your Representative and Senators to let them know you want them to support legislation that you care about. And watch FLEOA’s website to find out which bills FLEOA is working to get passed into law. Your calls and letters make all the difference between success and failure.

This article is compiled from Senate and House documents; CQ Today; the Washington Post; the Federal Employees News Digest; and the Federal Times.