By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
Congress Continues Appropriations Work
efore the summer district work period began, the House of Representatives and the Senate continued to work on many appropriations bills.
Of particular interest to the law enforcement community are U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations, which fund the DHS, and Commerce-Justice-Science and Related Agencies (C-J-S) appropriations, which fund the U.S. Department of Justice. Whereas Senate committees have completed work on these bills, the House of Representatives has not.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has released its proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2009 funding for various critical law enforcement programs:
- Community Oriented Police Services (COPS): $600 million
- Edward R. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG): $580 million
- State Homeland Security Grant (SHSG): $667.2 million
- Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI): $618.75 million
- Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention
Program (LETPP): $428.75 million (Note that there is no separate line item for the LETPP. In accordance with the Improving America’s Security Act of 2007 (also known as the 9/11 Act), 25 percent of funds from the SHSG and UASI must be used for LETPP activities.)
Congress must complete all appropriations work by September 30 to keep the government running and fully funded for the beginning of the 2009 fiscal year: October 1, 2008. However, instead of completing these bills individually, it is likely that Congress will pass a continuing resolution—where programs are funded at the lowest current levels. A continuing resolution is a stopgap funding measure that is passed for a short period of time to give lawmakers additional time to work on a final measure.
It is imperative that law enforcement executives continue to contact their elected representatives and outline what the loss of federal assistance funding will mean to the law enforcement community and to encourage them to restore full funding in FY 2009. At no time has it been more important for the voice of the law enforcement community to be heard than today.
To that end, the IACP has set up a Legislative Action Center (LAC): http://capwiz.com/theiacp/home/. Readers can use the LAC to write their members of Congress; find a congressional directory; and get information on national, state, and local elections. The IACP encourages its members to write their elected officials on issues important to the law enforcement community.
Collective-Bargaining Legislation Still Looming
This summer, there were many attempts to pass H.R. 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, in the Senate. This legislation is strongly opposed by the IACP.
In May, the administration issued a veto threat to H.R. 980, saying, “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.”
Briefly, H.R. 980 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. By mandating a “one-size-fits-all” approach to labor-management relations, 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 last July by a vote of 314–97 with 280 cosponsors. In the Senate, several attempts have been made to pass the bill, but to date, all have been unsuccessful. However, proponents of H.R. 980 are likely to resurrect the bill this fall, and it is important that the Senate hear opposition to it.
Readers can express their opposition to H.R. 980 by visiting the IACP LAC and sending a letter or e-mail to their senators about this important issue. The LAC includes a sample letter about H.R. 980 that can be personalized and sent simply by entering contact information. As mentioned in the previous item, the LAC can be accessed at http://capwiz.com/theiacp/home/.
Congressional Badge of Bravery Legislation Becomes Law
On July 31, 2008, the U.S. president signed into law the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Act, which will honor federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who perform exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty. The bill, sponsored by Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), makes the award available to any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer.
Legislative Committee Meeting
The IACP will hold its 115th annual conference in San Diego in November. The Legislative Committee Meeting will be held on Saturday, November 8, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., at the San Diego Convention Center. During this session, committee members will be updated on pertinent legislation and resolutions and will have the opportunity to ask questions. All members are invited to this meeting.
For more information, readers may contact Meredith Mays via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■