Officials from CLEAT and San Antonio didn’t waste any time by celebrating the many legislative victories. Instead, three days after Sine Die, it was back to work talking about the upcoming campaign cycle and planning for the 2015 legislative session.
On May 23rd, the San Antonio Police Officers Association hosted a BBQ feast for Legislators and their staff at the Capitol. The hard working officers brought in from San Antonio a giant pit and trailer in order to provide the best of food and hospitality to the Capitol.
Throughout the 83rd Legislative Session, the San Antonio Police Officers Association has been active in promoting good legislation and fighting bad bills. Here, they are pictured with State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio who also spoke at the Ride for the Fallen ceremony at the Peace Officers’ Memorial Wall on May 4th.
With only days left in the 83rd Legislative Session, CLEAT Public Affairs is still working hard in the Capitol fighting for law enforcement. CLEAT recently co-sponsored an end-of-session dinner for the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety as well as the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, the Honorable Joe Straus, was a special guest and visited with CLEAT at the dinner.
By Charley Wilkison
Director of Public Affairs
The Texas Senate should Act this week to pass HB 1009, for the protection of Texas School Children
The Texas Public Education Committee needs to push The Protection of Texas School children Act out onto the Senate floor and get it to the Governor before May 27th. The House has already passed this piece of much needed legislation. The bill creates a School Marshal program which will provide specialized training for school employees. Read More »
There are thousands of police officers employed by school districts and institutions of higher education. These officers participate in the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). CLEAT is opposed to SB 1458 by Duncan which proposes major plan changes to TRS. The bill will negatively impact the retirement of these officers. The bill will set the earliest retirement age at 62, regardless of years of service. Currently, plan members can retire at age 60 with 20 years of service or at age 50 with 30 years of service.
Under these changes, a new officer, hired at age 21, would have to work 41 years before being able to retire. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this is an unreasonable expectation for police officers. The stress and physical demands of the job are widely recognized as justifiable reasons for peace officers to retire earlier than other employees. Even under federal law, law enforcement officers are able to retire and access deferred retirement accounts without penalty at age 50. Read More »
April 16, 2013
The Honorable Bill Callegari
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Thank you for authoring HB 13 insuring transparency in areas of taxpayer funded public employee retirements and the governmental systems that function to make sure they’re properly appropriated.
Your strong leadership and honest straight forward direction have created a climate of serious introspection in the law enforcement and first responder communities.
We believe, as you do, that the future of law enforcement retirements depends largely on the confidence of the unique financial partnership between the taxpayers and those who risk their lives daily to protect our communities, families and businesses. Read More »
During the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, the San Antonio Police Officers Association has been at the Capitol multiple days a week advocating on behalf of all Texas officers. They have testified at hearings, visited with legislators and their staff, and tracked bills that would affect officers’ everyday lives.
SAPOA has also been instrumental in assisting CLEAT Public Affairs in both fighting bad bills and helping pass good ones for law enforcement.
The Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety recently held a hearing on the ‘Leigh Ann Snyder’ legislation; bills that if passed would prohibit law enforcement officers that are injured in the line of duty from being fired as a result of not being able to return to work in time due to their injuries.
Former Longview Officer Leigh Ann Snyder was seriously injured in the line of duty when her patrol car was struck head-on by a drunk driver while in route to a call. She was later fired from her department on official misconduct due to the fact that she could not get well within a year’s time; a city policy for employees.
House Bill 1697 by Representative Jessica Farrar, D-Houston and House Bill 1430 by Representative Allen Fletcher, R-Houston were both presented in committee. While the bills are similar, there are differences. House Bill 1430 states that an officer can not be fired from their department until a physician issues a maximum medical improvement (MMI) rating. House Bill 1697 provides the officer with a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) hearing.
CLEAT’s Chris Jones testified in support of both bills and how this should never happen to any officer, ever. Leigh Ann Snyder addressed the members of the committee and told her story. Longview Police Officers’ Association’s Paul Hickey also testified stating that not only is this a travesty, but that this is a horrible policy to have in place for first responders.
Senate Bill 1205 by Senator Leticia Van de Putte has also been filed addressing this issue and the bill is currently in the Senate Committee on State Affairs.
The ‘pension’ cabinet is a term formed to describe a group of CLEAT advisors who meet several times a day to work on all issues regarding officer retirement, specifically defined benefit plans.
From the left to right, Mark D Harkrider, state lobbyist for the Austin Police Pension system. Harkrider is a former assistant to the Attorney General and a longtime legislative strategist. Reb Wayne, President of Masa Media, is a former political advisor to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. CLEAT’s Melinda Griffith who came to CLEAT as a legislative staffer in the Capitol. Nancy Fisher, former Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. CLEAT’s Charley Wilkison, a longtime political strategist and lobbyist who previously worked as a legislative staffer in the U.S. Congress, Texas Capitol. Chris Jones, retired Houston PD and local union president and longtime lobbyist for CLEAT.
The pension cabinet regularly meet and work on strategies for defending retirements of Texas’ finest.