NAPO Joins Families of Slain NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu at FCC Blue Alert Hearing; Congress Passes Tax Reform; NAPO Supports Bill to Delay “Cadillac Tax”; NAPO Victory! Senate Committee Approves Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act; NAPO Opposes Trio of Anti-Law Enforcement Bills; NAPO’s Latest Legislative Positions & Sponsor/Cosponsor Updates; 30th Annual Pension & Benefits SeminarDecember 21, 2017
NAPO Joins Families of Slain NYPD Officers
Ramos and Liu
at FCC Blue Alert Hearing
On December 14, NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson joined the families of slain New York City Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meeting at which the commissioners voted to create a dedicated Emergency Alert System (EAS) event code for Blue Alerts. The families of Officers Ramos and Liu made impactful and moving remarks before the vote on the importance of creating a dedicated EAS for Blue Alerts.
NAPO strongly supported the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act, which was named after NAPO members Officers Ramos and Liu, who were assassinated while sitting in their police cruiser on December 20, 2014. Their killer posted threats to law enforcement on social media before the attack. A fully operational National Blue Alert Network will be a vital tool to help ensure information on credible threats, like that posted by the individual who killed Officers Ramos and Liu, is quickly and widely disseminated so that officers have advance warning, and can apprehend the criminal before he or she can do more harm.
NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson with the parents and widow of slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 58 hours. 138 officers were killed in the line of duty last year, 63 of whom were shot and killed. 21 of those gun-related deaths were by ambush – like Officers Ramos and Liu, the officers were targeted and killed simply because of the uniform they wore. This was a 167% increase in ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers over the previous year. In many of these cases, the individuals posted imminent and credible threats to law enforcement officers on social media. A functioning National Blue Alert Network may have prevented some of these unnecessary deaths.
The National Blue Alert Network allows the federal government to support state and local law enforcement as they work to develop and implement Blue Alert emergency systems in their states. It also supports the 27 states that currently have Blue Alert systems to integrate into a coordinated national framework.
NAPO strongly believes that a dedicated Emergency Alert System event code for Blue Alerts will facilitate and streamline the adoption of new Blue Alert plans in the remaining 23 states that do not yet have them and will help integrate all Blue Alert systems into the National Blue Alert Network. With the number of law enforcement officer assaults, injuries, and deaths increasing sharply in recent years, a functioning National Blue Alert Network, with all states participating, is vital for the protection of our nation’s law enforcement officers.
The FCC’s Report and Order provides a 12-month implementation period for Blue Alerts to be delivered over the Emergency Alert System and 18 months for delivery over the Wireless Emergency Alert system. This is essential to keeping our officers and our communities safe from violent criminals who have threatened to kill, have killed or seriously injured a law enforcement officer.
NAPO thanks the FCC and the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for their support and dedication to ensuring a successful National Blue Alert Network. We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the families of Officers Ramos and Liu, who, despite their tragic losses, continue to support the law enforcement community.
Congress Passes Tax Reform
Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) on December 20. NAPO weighed in on several aspects of the legislation as it made its way through the House and the Senate. We were able to remove a provision from the Senate bill that would have applied a 10-percent early withdrawal tax to governmental section 457(b) plans. We fought the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and opposed the application of the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) to public pension plans.
The final Act passed by Congress allows taxpayers to deduct their state and local property, income and sales taxes up to a combined $10,000 limit. The $10,000 cap is not indexed to inflation, so it will lose its value over the years. While this is not a total elimination of the SALT deduction, with the cap, citizens of states with high state and local taxes, such as New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois, could still find themselves on the wrong end of a tax hike.
We were successful in ensuring provisions harmful to public safety retirement were not included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition to removing the 10-percent early withdrawal tax on governmental pension plans, we were victorious in keeping the application of the UBIT on public pension plans out of the final tax bill. The House bill included a provision which would subject certain investments of state and local governmental pension plans to the UBIT, while the Senate did not include any such provision.
State agencies are Constitutionally exempt from taxation and the application of the UBIT to government sponsored retirement plans would have eroded the immunity states and the federal government each enjoy for taxation by the other. The application of the UBIT to public pension plans would have seriously diminished overall investment returns which are used to pay benefits to the hard-working first responders who dedicated their lives to protecting our nation’s communities.
There is much of the tax reform bill that NAPO did not weigh in on, but several provisions may be of interest to our members, including the increase in the child tax credit and the cap on mortgage interest deductions. The Act increases the child tax credit to $2,000 and made it fully refundable up to $1,200. It begins phasing out for families earning more than $400,000. The Act also caps the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000 for mortgages issued after January 1, 2018.
All the individual tax breaks included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will go into effect January 1, 2018 and will expire in eight years on December 31, 2025. While corporate tax cuts were made permanent, Congress put a sunset on the individual tax cuts to ensure the bill did not go over the $1.5 trillion cost allowed under the budget reconciliation act.
If you have any questions, please contact Andy Edmiston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAPO Supports Bill to Delay “Cadillac Tax”
Congressmen Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced H.R. 4616, a bill that would delay the “Cadillac Tax” – the 40 percent excise tax on employer sponsored health plans – by one year to 2021. NAPO has pledged its support for this bill as it gives Congress additional time to repeal the “Cadillac Tax” before employers start planning significant changes to their health insurance plans in order to avoid being hit with the tax. It is essential that Congress repeals the tax in 2018.
Although the Affordable Care Act sets higher thresholds for the excise tax for workers in high risk professions, such as public safety officers ($11,850 for an individual and $30,950 for a family), to qualify for the higher threshold amounts, the majority of members in the healthcare plan must work in high risk professions. Many public safety officers would not qualify for the higher threshold amounts, as they participate in general healthcare plans where most participants do not work in high risk professions.
The higher thresholds set for public safety officers thus will not adequately protect officers from the tax burden, as thousands of officers participate in plans that include a majority of employees who do not work in high risk professions.
Further, according to the American Health Police Institute, the excise tax thresholds, which increase over time for inflation only as measured by the Consumer Price Index and not historically higher medical cost inflation, will impact “average plan[s]” by 2031. The higher thresholds for individuals engaged in high-risk professions will not protect our plans from being affected.
As soon as January, employers will start the long benefits planning period to make changes to their health insurance plans that will affect the health coverage and affordability of those plans for employees in 2020. The one-year delay provided by this bill gives Congress time to repeal the excise tax before employers have to start the benefits planning window for 2021 in 2019. Congress must pass this bill as soon as possible to ensure employee health plans are not negatively impacted by the tax despite the intention to delay it.
Further, it is essential that this one-year delay of the excise tax on employer-sponsored health plans is used to ultimately repeal the tax and is not just another delay of this tax which continues to threaten the health benefits of our nation’s public safety officers.
H.R. 4616 was introduced as part of a package of bills backed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), making it legislation that has a significant chance of passing. We look forward to working with Congressmen Nunes and Kelly to pass H.R. 4616 and finally repeal the “Cadillac Tax” once and for all. Additionally, we continue working with Congressman Kelly to pass his Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, which would repeal the “Cadillac Tax”. This bill, H.R. 173, has 222 bipartisan cosponsors, illustrating the significant support within Congress for fully repealing the excise tax.
NAPO Victory! Senate Committee Approves
Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act
In a victory for NAPO, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the Stop Online Sex Trafficking Act (S. 1693), sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), which would ensure that websites, such as Backpage.com, that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims can be brought to justice.
Since its inception in 1998, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline has received more than 16.5 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation. In 2016 alone, the CyberTipLine received 8.2 million reports of apparent child sexual abuse images, suspected “sextortion”, child sex trafficking and child sexual molestation. An increasing number of these victims are trafficked online. Unfortunately, due to numerous court rulings, survivors of online trafficking cannot sue their advertisers due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which inadvertently gives broad criminal immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking. This significantly hampers law enforcement’s ability to enforce state trafficking laws against such websites.
The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act addresses this issue by narrowly amending Section 230 to allow states and victims to bring cases against bad actors that facilitate sex trafficking, while safeguarding the freedom of the internet.
We look forward to continuing working with Senators Portman and Blumenthal to pass this important legislation.
NAPO Opposes Trio of Anti-Law Enforcement Bills
NAPO has indicated our opposition to three bills that were introduced by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) that show utter distrust of police officers and contempt for the policies in place that protect certain officer due process rights.
The first bill, the Cooling-Off Period Elimination Act of 2017 (H.R. 4330), would make any law enforcement agency or department ineligible for Justice Department (DOJ) law enforcement grant programs if it allows for a cooling-off period for officers after an officer involved shooting. Many departments have cooling-off periods as part of their department policies or included in their collective bargaining agreements for rank-and-file officers.
Research has shown that in high stress situations, such as officer-involved shootings, the phenomenon of “selective attention” kicks in and officers often focus only on those items and behaviors crucial to their safety and the public’s safety. Other elements of the situation are not processed and often cannot be fully recollected, if remembered at all, until well after the stressful situation is over. NAPO strongly believes that cooling-off periods legitimately exist to help officers accurately and truthfully recall events and eliminating them would be detrimental to both internal and external investigations.
Further, NAPO is concerned that the Cooling-Off Elimination Act pursues its goals through penalties to vital DOJ law enforcement grants, such as the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program and the COPS Hiring Programs.
The second bill introduced by Congressman Johnson is the Police Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 4331), which would make it a federal crime for a law enforcement officer to assault or kill an individual. The Congressman introduced this bill last Congress and it did not gain any traction.
Currently, any crime committed by a state or local police officer is already federally punishable and prosecutable if the officer violated an individual’s federal constitutional rights. As this obviously includes homicides, there is no need for this legislation. We do not need to create duplicative federal law to produce witch hunts against officers whose use of deadly force was justifiable under law simply because they used deadly force.
Lastly, Congressman Johnson reintroduced the Grand Jury Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 4332), which would mandate a governor appoint a special prosecutor in cases where a law enforcement officer used deadly force.
NAPO has strong concerns with the requirement that a governor must appoint a special prosecutor in every case when an officer uses deadly force in the course of carrying out his official duties and that use of force results in the death of that person. The sole purpose of that special prosecutor is to determine if criminal charges should be brought against the officer. NAPO fears that an independent prosecutor would be under a great deal of pressure to justify his work. There is a risk that decisions to prosecute would be made based on politics, not on the law and admissible evidence. NAPO is concerned that an officer would be indicted, even if he did nothing wrong.
NAPO expressed our serious concerns with these three bills to Congressman Johnson and we hope he will take them into consideration. We are working to ensure that these harmful proposals do not move forward.
NAPO’s Latest Legislative Positions
and Sponsor/Cosponsor Updates
NAPO’s updated “Sponsor/Cosponsor” spreadsheet is now available!
The spreadsheet accompanies the latest “Legislative Positions” document.
The “Sponsor/Cosponsor” spreadsheet is a useful tool to check if your members of Congress have supported pieces of legislation that will impact our members. NAPO will update this spreadsheet regularly, and continue to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill.
If you have any questions about any of the legislation that NAPO is currently working, please contact Andy Edmiston at: email@example.com.
Join NAPO for our 30th Annual Pension & Benefits Seminar
Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV – January 28-30, 2018
We invite you to join the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) for our 30th Annual Police, Fire, EMS & Municipal Employee Pension & Benefits Seminar to be held at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 28-30, 2018. Participate in discussions on the pressing topics that are affecting your pension fund and benefits.
Topics will include: Pension Threats & Reforms, The U.S. Supreme Court Case that may Gut Unions Across the Country, Plan Fund & Design, The Pension Crisis that started in Kentucky and Why it May Be Coming to Your State Soon, Tax Reform and the Loss of State and Local Tax Deductions, The Death of the 401(k) Plan, Medicare Options and Security Breaches just to name a few!
For the most up to date agenda check NAPO’s website at www.napo.org
Take an active role in improving your fund by registering for this informative seminar. Registration and Hotel information is attached. Registration Information is also found on the NAPO’s website event page.
If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact Elizabeth Loranger, NAPO’s Director of Events at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 549-0775. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!
NAPO wishes you and your loved ones
and we look forward to
working with you in the new year!
Please monitor NAPO’s website, www.napo.org, and Facebook page: National Association of Police Organizations, and follow us on Twitter at NAPOpolice for breaking news and updates, including our Mid-Term 115th Legislative Scorecard that will be released in January.