CLEAT’s lobby team works hard to maintain officers’ rights and advocate for better working conditions and benefits for our members.
86th Texas Legislative Session (2019)
SB 1582 – by Senator Eddie Lucio and HB 1492 by Rep. John Wray were filed at our request. Presumptive Illness for peace officers. Austin cardiologist and CLEAT member Jon Sheinberg worked with us to provide expert testimony during the hearings. The worker’s compensation risk pools for both the Texas Municipal League and Texas Association of Counties fought us every step of the way. In order to take advantage of the presumption, officers will need to have a physical examination, including a medical screening for cardiovascular disease. If that screening shows no signs of CVD and the officer has been employed for more than 5 years, then the presumption would apply if the officer were to later suffer a heart attack or stroke. There is convincing evidence that law enforcement officers are significantly impacted physically by the job they do. Several studies have shown that officers die from heart attack and strokes and a significantly higher rate than the general population. So armed with this evidence we sought to amend Chapter 607 to include peace officers.
SB2551 – The bill provides that sovereign immunity no longer applies to sanctions and administrative penalties assessed against cities and counties for violation of workers compensation rules. And it would allow an employee to recover attorney’s fees from a public employer who is involved in a lawsuit over workers compensation coverage or benefits.
HB766 – provides that officers who are permanently disabled in the line of duty are entitled to a mandatory tuition exemption from state college and universities in order to learn a new profession.
HB 872 – CLEAT asked Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant) to file HB 872. Senator Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton)carried the bill in Senate. The bill sought to fix a loophole in the law that provides a line of duty death annuity payment to families of peace officers and state correctional officers who die in the line of duty. The law did not include county jailers or other detention officers, so this bill added them.
HB872 – Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) offered a floor amendment to HB 872 to fix a problem that he was addressing in another bill that he had filed for CLEAT. The amendment related to how claims are filed by agencies with the Employees Retirement System of Texas. Some agencies were refusing to file claims and this would correct that.
HB 3635 – CLEAT asked Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas) to file HB 3635. The bill addressed the amount of the state line of duty death benefit and how the amount of the benefit would be increased in the future. The current death benefit is $500,000, but in 2001 it was only $50,000. CLEAT was instrumental in raising this amount to $250,000 and then to $500,000, but each effort required that separate bills be filed and debated by the legislature. Federal line of duty death benefits are based on annual increases determined by the cost of living. HB 3635 sought to do the same thing for the state benefit. The amount of the death benefit would be automatically increased in the future based on the consumer price index for Urban Consumers. When the CPI goes up, the benefit would be increased by the same percentage. Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) was the Senate sponsor.
HCR19 – One of the biggest complaints we hear from members who retire is the fact that their social security benefits are reduced because they were a member of a defined benefit pension and they did not pay into social security while participating in their pension plan. In most cases, these officers have earned social security through other employment, either extra jobs or through employment before or after their law enforcement career. Yet, their benefits are still reduced. This is something that can’t be fixed in the Texas Legislature. It has to be fixed by Congress in Washington. What the Texas Legislature can do is pass a resolution expressing their wish that Congress take corrective action. Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) and Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) filed separate resolutions urging Congress to repeal the GPO and WEP provisions in social security. Because this issue affects so many of our members who retire after a career of faithful service, we felt strongly about making sure this resolution passed. We worked with Reprehensive Herrero on HCR 19 and CLEAT was the only law enforcement organization to testify in support during the committee hearing. In fact, CLEAT was the only statewide law enforcement organization to support this resolution, period. HCR 19 was passed and signed by the Governor. It sends a strong message to the U.S. Congress regarding the need to correct this long term inequity.
HB2137 – CLEAT asked Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne) to file HB 2137. The bill waives the fee for honorably retired peace officers to obtain a LTC and also waives the training requirements. It waives the firearm proficiency requirements if the officer has demonstrated proficiency under Section 1701.357, Occupations Code (TCOLE firearms proficiency requirement).
The bill was carried in the Senate by Senator Pete Flores.
HB2605 – Required public employees to expedite claims and appeals for first responders injured in the line of duty
All Legislative Achievements
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