Congress Passes PROTECT Our Children Act; NAPO on the Hill: Honoring Hometown Heroes Act; Public Pension Network; NAPO on the Hill: Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights; InterAgency Board Issues Opioids/Fentanyl Exposure Guidance for First Responders; PLEASE HELP OUR BROTHER AND SISTER OFFICERS AFFECTED BY HURRICANES HARVEY & IRMAOctober 30, 2017
Congress Passes PROTECT Our Children Act
In a victory for NAPO, Congress passed the Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to (PROTECT) Our Children Act of 2017 (S. 782) on October 26 and sent the bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law. NAPO worked to get the House Judiciary Committee, which had been holding the PROTECT Our Children Act, to discharge the bill so that the House could vote on it. It passed the House by a vote of 417-3. The House made a minor amendment to the bill, so it must go back to the Senate for final passage before it can become law.
This legislation, sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), reauthorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, which is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation involving the internet.
Additionally, these task forces provide forensic and investigative technical assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors as well as provide community education information to parents, educators, prosecutors, law enforcement, and others concerned with child exploitation.
NAPO thanks Senators Cornyn and Blumenthal and Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz for their commitment to reauthorize this the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and ensure continued protection of our children on the internet.
NAPO on the Hill:
Honoring Hometown Heroes Act; Public Pension Network
Honoring Hometown Heroes Act
The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892 / S. 1108) passed the House on May 18 by a vote of 411-1 and it should have been a quick vote in the Senate, but the politics around healthcare reform got in the way of an easy passage in that chamber. This week, NAPO worked with the offices of the Senate sponsors, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and John Boozman (R-AR) to start the process of clearing the bill for a unanimous consent vote in the Senate. This type of vote is for non-controversial bills that must have near universal support and both the Republicans and Democrats must ensure there will be no objections to the bill before it can be brought to the floor for a vote under unanimous consent.
The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act will permit the Governor of a state or territory to lower the American flag to half-staff in the tragic event that a law enforcement officer, firefighter or public safety officer from that jurisdiction dies in the line of duty. Currently, a Governor can only make this tribute for the death of a present or formal government official or a member of the Armed Forces who dies in combat. This bill will ensure that first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice while protecting their communities will also have the simple, but meaningful honor of having the flag flown at half-staff.
We are hopeful the bill will clear the process on both sides and be ready for a unanimous consent vote as early as next week. NAPO thanks Senators Tester, Moran and Boozman for their support of the public safety community.
Public Pension Network
On October 26, NAPO attended the monthly Public Pension Network (PPN) meeting, which brings together public pension practitioners and retirement systems, public sector labor organizations, and state and local government representatives to discuss the latest updates on public pension and social security issues being considered by Congress and the Administration.
At the meeting we discussed the various proposals that would affect retirement savings that are being considered as part of tax reform. On October 26, Congress narrowly passed the 2018 budget resolution by a 216-212 vote, which paves the way for Congress to pass tax reform with just a majority vote in both chambers (it would usually take a 2/3 vote in the Senate). Many Republicans joined Democrats in opposing it as a form of protest because Republican leadership is considering eliminating the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction as part of tax reform in order to help pay for corporate and individual tax cuts.
The SALT deduction is vital for individuals in states such as New York, New Jersey and California that have high state taxes. The elimination of that deduction would equate to a large tax increase for citizens of those states. Republican leadership is working with Republicans from those states on a possible compromise that would not eliminate the tax deduction altogether but rather place income caps on who can claim it.
Republican leaders are also considering changes to taxes on 401(k) savings. Currently, workers who have access to 401(k) plans or defined contribution plans are able to invest up to $18,500 in pre-tax dollars per year and participants who are 50 years of age or older are able to put away $24,500 per year. Workers only pay taxes on those contributions when they are withdrawn. Under the change being considered under tax reform, the limits to the pre-tax contributions to 401(k) plans will be drastically lowered to $2,400 a year. Amounts over the $2,400 cap could then be put into “Roth” accounts where the money is taxed when it is deposited and not when it withdrawn, much like a Roth IRA plan.
This would not affect the amount of money a worker will be able to contribute to their retirement, but it will affect when that money gets taxed. It could be confusing to workers who are trying to decide if they want to participate in their employer’s defined contribution plan and if so, how much money they want to invest in it. The fear is that workers may just put away $2,400 a year, which is woefully short of what the average worker (without access to a pension plan) needs to save for retirement. Further, this “rothification” of 401(k) plans is only a budget gimmick. Whereas right now the federal government collects taxes on 401(k) contributions on the back end, by making this money taxable up front, Congress can say that they have the revenues needed to show savings in the first 10 years of tax reform.
The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), will release the proposed tax reform legislation on November 1 and House leadership has stated that it is their goal to pass it before Thanksgiving. This gives the House just three weeks to negotiate and debate tax reform before taking it up for a vote.
The PPN is an integral partner in our work to protect public pension plans, reform the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), oppose mandatory Social Security, and fight against the unfair consequences of the imposition of the excise (“Cadillac”) tax on employees’ healthcare benefits. NAPO will update our members on the tax reform legislation and any proposals that will affect your retirement plans.
If you have any questions, please contact Andy Edmiston at email@example.com.
NAPO on the Hill: Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights
NAPO met with staff of Senate Law Enforcement Caucus Co-Chair Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) to discuss the reintroduction of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights Act. This bill would establish standards to guide law enforcement agencies in developing and operating a fair and effective investigative process. Individuals should have the right to file a complaint, to have the complaint investigated, and to be informed of its final disposition, including learning the outcome of the investigation and any resulting disciplinary action.
Many of NAPO’s members are facing attacks to their due process rights from activists who believe that the due process rights given to officers either through their collective bargaining agreements or their state’s law enforcement officers’ bill of rights creates a double standard and gives officers undue protections against criminal investigations. With the President and the Attorney General declaring that supporting state and local law enforcement is a top priority for the Administration, anti-cop activists are taking to the state and local level to wage a war against officer rights.
Throughout the country, many states lack coherent guidelines and procedures for law enforcement officers’ due process rights. Sworn law enforcement officers are held to an extremely high standard of personal and professional conduct, due to the enormous responsibilities they exercise. However, many officers are denied the same basic due process rights that all other citizens enjoy. In approximately fifty percent of the states, officers enjoy some legal protections against false accusations and abusive conduct. Nevertheless, this leaves hundreds of thousands of officers with limited or no due process or who face limitations or retaliation when exercising these rights.
Taking away an officers’ due process rights is not the way to improve police accountability and transparency. In fact, most officer bill of rights laws and provisions include guidelines and procedures for handling and investigating complaints, ensuring the department takes complaints against officers seriously and conducts a thorough inquiry. The Law Enforcement Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights Act would ensure that all states have at least a minimum of standards and procedures in place to guide both state and local law enforcement agencies and law enforcement officers during internal investigations, administrative hearings, and evaluation of citizen complaints.
Senator Blunt’s staff believed that while the Senator would support the legislation, it would be difficult for him to sponsor it due to the current environment in Missouri between law enforcement and the community. The Senator’s staff was helpful in strategizing other possible Republican sponsors and offered to support our efforts in any other way.
NAPO continues our effort to find a member of Congress who will take up the mantel and fight for officer due process rights. If you have any questions about this legislation or NAPO’s efforts to create a national Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights, please contact Andy Edmiston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
InterAgency Board Issues Opioids/Fentanyl Exposure
Guidance for First Responders
The InterAgency Board (IAB) released a 2 page guidance on opioid/fentanyl exposure to be used by first responders as a quick reference guide entitled “Recommended Best Practices to Minimize Emergency Responder Exposure to Synthetic Opioids, Including Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogs”. This document is an overview of guidance for personal protective equipment selection and use, decontamination, detection, and medical countermeasures for first responders who may be exposed to opioids in the line of duty.
The IAB was founded in 1998 by the Departments of Justice and Defense with the mission of strengthening the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond safely and effectively to emergencies, disasters, Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRNE) incidents. The 2 page guidance was developed to compliment a much longer guidance document, “Recommendations on Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Decontamination Products for First Responders Against Exposure Hazards to Synthetic Opioids, Including Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues”.
The recommendations were developed with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NIOSH/NPPTL). NAPO works closely with NIOSH/NPPTL as part of the National Public Safety Sector Council, providing feedback on research agendas and major research projects prior to finalization.
PLEASE HELP OUR BROTHER AND SISTER OFFICERS
AFFECTED BY HURRICANES HARVEY & IRMA
Thank you to all our member groups, individual members, supporters and sponsors
who have already donated to NAPO’s Relief Fund!
The requests for relief checks continue to flow in. Many, many officers in Texas and South Florida lost everything due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Several of our groups have reposted it to their own members and we ask that other groups please do the same. The donation form is also up on our Facebook site and webpage (www.napo.org) and we have a direct donations link for our Relief Fund up and running on our website.
We will repeat our requests for contributions to our Relief Fund as long as needed. 100 percent of donations will be used to provide direct financial relief to the officers affected. We will rely on the local unions and associations to confirm the damage and losses and will immediately cut checks to the officers.
Thank you for your support and generosity for all our brother and sister officers and their families affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.