By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n May 8, the administration issued a veto threat to H.R. 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. This legislation, which the IACP also opposes, would effectively federalize bargaining rules for state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies.
The veto threat, contained in a letter signed by U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey as well as Secretaries Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Chao of the Department of Labor, states, “While the Administration does not object to states deciding to allow collective bargaining, we believe that state and local governments are themselves most appropriately positioned to deal with the complex issues in determining the nature and range of collective bargaining rights, especially at the local level.”
At the time that the veto threat was issued, IACP president Ronald Ruecker issued a call to action to membership. H.R. 980 could be considered in the Senate at any time; therefore, it is extremely critical that the voices of the IACP’s members are heard.
Readers can contact their senators and tell them to vote down H.R. 980 by visiting the IACP’s Legislative Action Center (LAC). The LAC includes a sample letter about H.R. 980 that can be personalized and sent simply by entering the user’s contact information.
The LAC can be accessed online at http://capwiz.com/theiacp/home .
IACP Supports Leonhart Nomination
President Ruecker also recently sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senator Patrick Leahy (DVermont), expressing support for the nomination of Michelle Leonhart as administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Leonhart currently serves as acting administrator and also served as deputy administrator. She is the chair of the IACP’s Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee.
Acting Administrator Leonhart has served with the DEA for nearly 30 years, serving as special agent in charge in a wide range of areas throughout the United States, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Through this experience, she has acquired a broad base of experience that provides her with a unique perspective on narcotics issues.
In the letter of support, President Ruecker stated, “Acting Administrator Leonhart’s service has provided her with a thorough understanding of the crucial role played by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in combating the distribution and use of illicit narcotics, while her tenure as Deputy and Acting Administrator of DEA has clearly demonstrated her grasp of the complex policy issues surrounding the nation’s drug enforcement efforts.”
President Ruecker concluded his letter by urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm Acting Administrator Leonhart soon.
Congress Continues Work on Byrne-JAG Supplemental Funding
The IACP is continuing its effort to increase fiscal year (FY) 2008 (that is, current) funding levels for state, tribal, and local law enforcement assistance programs. As previously reported, the FY 2008 omnibus slashed funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program to $170 million, a 68 percent decrease from FY 2007. In response, the IACP has been working with congressional allies to include Byrne-JAG funding in an emergency supplemental bill.
Both chambers of Congress recently released their respective versions of FY 2008 supplemental spending bills. While the House version did not include Byrne-JAG funds, the Senate version did. If the provisions of the supplemental spending bill pass the Senate, the two bills will then head to conference committee, where differences will be resolved.
There were many events that led to the inclusion of Byrne-JAG funds in the Senate version of the FY 2008 supplemental spending bill:
- On April 17, the IACP joined other law enforcement organizations and sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations leadership, calling for an additional $490 million in Byrne-JAG FY 2008 funds in an emergency supplemental bill.
- To date, more than half of the members of the House of Representatives and two-thirds of senators have officially pledged their support in a similar fashion by signing a “dear colleague” letter. This letter also calls for an additional $490 million to be made available to aid law enforcement agencies this year.
- After meeting with representatives from the IACP and other concerned organizations, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, recently voiced support for the measure. Chairwoman Mikulski said, “I have heard from state and local police around the country that the consequences of these funding cuts will be fewer cops on our streets fighting gangs, drugs, and child predators and fewer prosecutions of criminals. We have an obligation to keep our communities safe from violent crime. If we can provide resources to the police in Iraq, we should support our cops here at home.”1
Senator Mikulski’s endorsement is significant because the committee she chairs is responsible for appropriations for the Department of Justice, which funds most state, tribal, and local law enforcement programs.
The IACP urges all members to contact their elected officials and ask to restore critical Byrne-JAG funding. As mentioned earlier in regard to H.R. 980, members can use the LAC by visiting http://capwiz.com/theiacp/home .
As the FY 2008 supplemental spending bill progresses through Congress, the IACP will keep members informed of developments. ?
1“Chairwoman Mikulski Endorses Effort to Increase Local Law Enforcement Funding,” press release, April 9, 2008, http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=295841 (accessed May 12, 2008).