By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n July 17, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007, by a vote of 314–97. H.R. 980, which was introduced in February, is sponsored by Representative Dave Kildee (D-Mich.), and was passed with 280 cosponsors. The IACP is strongly opposed to this legislation.
H.R. 980 requires that every state have a minimum level of bargaining standards, including the following:
- The right to form and join a labor organization, which may exclude management and supervisory employees, that is or seeks to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of such employees
- Requiring public safety employers to recognize the employees’ labor organization (freely chosen by a majority of the employees), to agree to bargain with the labor organization, and to commit any agreements to writing in a contract or memorandum of understanding
- Providing for bargaining over hours, wages, and terms and conditions of employment
- Making available an interest impasse resolution mechanism, such as fact-finding, mediation, arbitration, or comparable procedures
- Requiring enforcement through state courts of all rights, responsibilities, and protections provided by state law and enumerated in this list as well as any written contract or memorandum of understanding
Currently, 27 states have a higher level of standards than those set forth in the bill. This means 23 states would be affected by the bill. However, the bill gives the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) the permission to review each state’s collective-bargaining standards. If the FLRA finds that a state does not have the provisions listed here, that state will have to adopt them.
The IACP sent an alert to all members of the House of Representatives stating the IACP’s opposition to the bill. The alert stated, “Safe streets and safe neighborhoods require well-trained and well-managed police departments that are responsive and accountable to the communities they serve. The IACP believes that the provisions of H.R. 980 would effectively federalize state and local government labor management relations and as a result, make these goals harder to achieve.”
The IACP believes that H.R. 980 would only harm the efficiency of state and local public safety agencies by forcing them to divert their precious resources from their primary mission of protecting the public and instead use them for collective-bargaining administration.
H.R. 980 has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Several senators have expressed dissatisfaction with H.R. 980 and could threaten to place a hold on the bill. In addition, the administration has expressed its opposition to the bill. It is likely that the Senate will debate the legislation when it returns from summer recess after Labor Day.
The IACP urges members to contact their members of Congress on this important issue and has set up a Legislative Action Center (LAC) where members can write or e-mail their representative. The LAC includes a sample letter about H.R. 980 that can be personalized and sent simply by entering your contact information.
The LAC can be accessed through the IACP Web site (www.theiacp.org).1 The IACP will keep members informed of any developments.
House Approves Tiahrt Amendment
On July 26, the House of Representatives approved a reauthorization of the Tiahrt Amendment. The amendment, which seeks to bar law enforcement agencies and cities from accessing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) gun-trace data for use in civil lawsuits against firearms makers, was approved within Commerce, Justice, and Science (C-J-S) and Related Agencies fiscal year (FY) 2008 funding. The IACP strongly opposes this amendment and fought to keep it from being reauthorized.
The language has been part of the C-J-S measure since 2003 and, if passed by the full House and Senate, would be included in C-J-S funding for FY 2008.
Earlier this summer, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a similarly worded amendment, which would limit law enforcement agencies’ access to ATF gun-trace data to use in “bona fide criminal investigations” only. That amendment was also included in C-J-S FY 2008 funding.
The IACP will continue to work with members of Congress to keep the Tiahrt Amendment out of appropriations or other legislation.
9/11 Legislation Sent to President for Signature
Early in 2007, both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislation that would implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Each chamber passed different versions of the bill, and it had to go to a conference committee, where members of each chamber met and worked out the differences in the bill. Conferees finished their work in late July, and one bill was sent to the president for his signature on July 27.
Specifically, the bill provides for the following:
- Creation of the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement Policy within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Policy Directorate, with an assistant secretary for state and local law enforcement policy. The conference report urges the secretary of DHS to move the office so that it reports directly to him.
- Requiring the secretary of DHS to allocate DHS grants by assessing risk. It would direct the secretary to evaluate factors such as critical infrastructure and to prioritize grants for the highest-risk areas. It would lower guaranteed per-state allotments of DHS grants to 0.25 percent of the total funds available, with the rest of the funds distributed by risk-based criteria. There is an exemption for border states, which could receive 0.45 percent of the total.
- Furthering information and intelligence sharing with state, tribal, and local law enforcement by creating new programs, including the Fusion and Law Enforcement Education and Teaming (FLEET) grant program and several other provisions.
The bill also includes many of the other recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including port security measures, cargo screening, and other provisions.■
1Readers may also access the LAC page directly by visiting http://capwiz.com/theiacp/issues/alert/?alertid=10018286&type=CO.