By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n December 26, the U.S. president signed the fiscal year (FY) 2008 appropriations package into law.
Overall, the funding levels are higher than those proposed in the administration’s budget, released in February. However, funding for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program suffered a significant cut: the program was funded at just $170 million, a 68 percent decrease compared with the current level of $520 million.
IACP president Ronald C. Ruecker sent a letter to key members of the House and Senate expressing the IACP’s dissatisfaction with the cuts. In the letter, President Ruecker stated, “It is the IACP’s belief that a funding cut of this magnitude will severely reduce, if not cripple, the ability of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities from crime and violence.”
President Ruecker also encouraged Congress to consider additional funding in the form of supplemental appropriations in the coming year. “As Congress moves forward, the IACP urges you to take the steps necessaryto ensure that vital state, tribal, and local law enforcement assistance programs are funded at levels consistent with the House and Senate passed versions.”
The chart below highlights the proposed funding levels for primary law enforcement assistance grants (values in millions of dollars).The IACP will continue to work closely with members of Congress to ensure that the needs of the law enforcement community are met in FY 2008.
For more information on the FY 2008 omnibus, please contact Meredith Mays at 703-647-7226 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collective Bargaining Bill Fails in Senate
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 (H.R. 980/S. 2123). The IACP strongly opposes this legislation.
Just before Congress’s December recess, Senators Kennedy (D-Mass.), Harkin (D-Iowa), and Gregg (R-N.H.) (the bill’s original cosponsors) filed an amendment to the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act (“farm bill”) in an attempt to pass S. 2123 that way. Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the amendment from debate for lack of votes for passage.
Briefly, H.R. 980/S. 2123 would effectively federalize state and local government labor-management relations and deprive state and local governments of the necessary flexibility to manage their public safety operations in a manner that they choose. The bill would require a minimum level of collective-bargaining rights for public safety employees, including police and firefighters. It is the IACP’s belief that by mandating a “one-size-fits-all” approach to labor-management relations, H.R. 980/S. 2123 ignores the fact that every jurisdiction has unique needs and therefore requires the freedom to manage its public safety workforce in the manner that it has determined to be the most effective.
The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 17 by a vote of 314–97 with 280 cosponsors.
On November 15, the IACP held a national call-in day for members to contact their senators regarding S. 2123. The call-in day was held in conjunction with other state, tribal, and local organizations such as the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties.
It looks likely that H.R. 980/S. 2123 has been sidelined for now, but it could be an ongoing issue as 2008 progresses. However, several senators have expressed dissatisfaction with the bill, and the administration (including the Department of Homeland Security) has expressed opposition to the bill.
The IACP will continue its efforts in opposition to the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.
Day on the Hill
The IACP’s biennial Day on the Hill has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, in conjunction with the midyear meetings of both the Division of State and Provincial Police and the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police. On this day, IACP members will have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials on issues important to the law enforcement community.
If you are interested in joining us for the Day on the Hill, please contact Meredith Mays via e-mail at email@example.com for more information. ■