LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS BILL OF RIGHTS
On May 5, 2011, Congressman Erick Paulsen (R-MN) introduced the State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2011 (H.R.1789). This bill would give officers basic rights and due process and it currently has the support of six cosponsors.
NAPO has been working with several offices in the Senate for the introduction of a companion bill to H.R. 1789.
The 112th Congress has been involved with efforts to address the growing national debt. As a result, many lawmakers have called for drastic reductions in discretionary spending; adversely affecting funding for law enforcement.
The 112th Congress began without a funding solution for FY11. NAPO worked diligently on our outreach and education regarding the importance of funding COPS Hiring. We held meetings on Capitol Hill with key offices and hosted a briefing on the topic. Thus, funding for law enforcement survived the Congressional effort to dissolve programs and enact unsustainable cutbacks. COPS Hiring received $246.8 million in FY11. Byrne JAG, a program that works in conjunction with the COPS program received $431 million in funding.
Fortunately, funding for FY12 was settled before the end of the 2011 calendar year. Ultimately COPS Hiring received $166 million and Byrne JAG $270 million. Even so, funding for COPS was not without controversy. The House CJS Appropriations Committee failed to fund the program during mark-up. This was problematic since the COPS program is unauthorized. Current House rules do not allow for amendments to programs that fall under this category. However, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee markup for CJS funding approved $200 million for COPS Hiring. Final funding for the Department of Justice was determined by a conference report from both chambers.
ALLOCATION OF SPECTRUM TO BUILD A NATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY NETWORK (D BLOCK)
At the beginning of 2011, the Administration announced that it would give the D Block spectrum directly to public safety to build a mobile broadband network for police and emergency first responders. This announcement represented a vital victory for law enforcement and America’s public safety sector; prior to this announcement the FCC intended to auction off the D Block to the highest bidder.
Over the course of the year NAPO attended a number of meetings, both at the White House and on Capitol Hill on the topic of D Block. A variety of legislation was introduced on the topic. NAPO endorsed Senator Rockefeller’s (D-WV) bill, The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S. 911). NAPO also supports the view that the public safety network should be interoperable with other 700MHz bandclasses.
Legislators were tasked with finding revenue offsets to reduce the deficit. The auction of spectrum will result in millions of dollars which will be a favorable offset. Members of Congress still considered the allocation of the D Block to public safety a priority. In December, members in the House released a legislative package that included the allocation of the D Block spectrum to public safety. Although this was a step closer to final passage on this critical legislation, the House legislation still needed work on several provisions; cost, governance, additional spectrum auctions and interoperability.
Congress ended the year without a deal on D Block. Looking forward it will be increasingly difficult for standalone passage of spectrum legislation.
IRS NORMAL RETIREMENT AGE
NAPO has been successful at postponing the enactment date for the IRS Normal Retirement Age first from January 1, 2009, to 2011 and later to its current date; January 1, 2013. The IRS-issued regulations began in 2007 and would make public pension plans define normal retirement age for public safety officers in regards to in-service distributions as age 50 and not based on years of service.
In December, NAPO sent another letter to the Commissioner of the IRS reiterating our position on the harmful effects of the Jan 1, 2013 deadline and requesting a change in definition for Normal Retirement Age. Also in December; Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sent a follow-up letter to Commissioner Shulman, for which NAPO provided input. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), along with Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Richard Neal (D-MA), introduced The Small Business Pension Promotion Act of 2011 (H.R. 3561). NAPO has expressed support for both of these in a NAPO letter and signed onto a collective letter with other Public Pension groups.
NAPO is the premier law enforcement organization on this issue. We are working to see that changes will occur before 2013 and will keep you posted on our efforts and progression on the issue. How the Normal Retirement Age will affect groups is detailed below.
- In-service distributions- similar to a Deferred Retirement Option (DROP) plan in that an employee can technically “retire” and start drawing pension checks, but continue working for the employer maintaining the pension plan. However, with an in-service distribution the pension checks are sent directly to the employee, while under a DROP plan the pension checks are sent to an interest-earning account. Therefore, with an in-service distribution, the employee is able to collect both his pension and his pay checks simultaneously. This is what the IRS wants to prevent an employee from doing until he/she reaches “normal retirement age” as defined by the IRS Normal Retirement Age rules - Treasury Regulations Section 1.401(a)-1(b) - which is 50 years of age for public safety officers. This regulation pertains only to in-service distributions, not to DROP plans.
- Retirement Age: A public safety officer can still retire after 20 or 25 years of service, even if he or she has not reached the age of 50, and receive a full, unreduced pension as long as he or she severs all employment with the employer who maintains the plan. However, this is considered “Early Unreduced Retirement” not “Normal Retirement Age”. Therefore. . .
- Health Insurance Benefits: If an officer retired under “Early Unreduced Retirement” then they do not qualify for HELPS Benefits. Under the HELPS provision, a public safety officer must have retired at “Normal Retirement Age” in order to obtain the privilege to use up to $3,000 from their retirement savings on a pre-tax basis for use toward health care insurance and long-term care insurance premiums.
- Combination of Pension Plans: If a department has a pension plan that is combined with other plans (rolled up with the other State plans such as teachers or government employees) then it cannot qualify for the “Early Unreduced Retirement” therefore forcing officers to wait longer to retire and receive benefits.
The Government Pensions Offset (GPO) reduces public employees’ Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by two-thirds of their public pension. This is problematic for rank-and-file because if a spouse who paid into Social Security dies, the surviving public safety officer would normally be eligible for half of the deceased’s benefit. However, if the surviving law enforcement officer had not been paying into Social Security while working, the GPO requires the this amount be offset by two-thirds of the survivor’s pension thus eliminating most, if not all of the payment. Current legislation has been introduced in both chambers that would repeal GPO requirements applicable to spouses’, widows’, and parents’ insurance benefits with respect to Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) payments and in addition repeal Windfall Elimination requirements. (S. 2010 in the Senate has the support of 1 cosponsor and H.R. 1332 in the House has the support of 134 cosponsors.)
Lost income caused by both the GPO and the WEP is a financial strain on law enforcement officers and their families. Although there has been legislation introduced on these topics during consecutive Congresses (with reasonable levels of cosponsors), there has yet to be a substantive movement to advance bills. NAPO remains an active voice on behalf of law enforcement on the topic and continues to lead efforts to actively pass legislation.
ADDITIONAL ISSUES OF INTEREST TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB)
NAPO has been a longstanding advocate for Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB). We acknowledge that there is still work that needs to be done in order to make certain all public safety officers who have become permanently and completely disabled in the line of duty are given the benefits they deserve in recognition for their sacrifice.
In October, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act of 2011, (S. 1696 in the Senate and H.R. 1668 in the House). NAPO does support legislation that makes important changes to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program that will increase or protect benefits, expedite claims and help the program with its education and outreach to the first responder community. However, we are concerned that current legislation does not go far enough in protecting officers from recent developments within the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program (BVP).
Attorney General Eric Holder announced a requirement that departments which receive funds for the BVP program will now be required to have mandatory wear policies. As a key contributor in the development of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program and the law enforcement leader on implementation and improvements, NAPO recognizes the vital importance of modern body armor, however, officers who are harmed in the line of duty (or their survivors) should not be hindered by this policy when their PSOB benefits are considered. It is imperative that future legislation reflects this concern. An officer’s compliance with mandatory wear policies has too many unforeseeable circumstances to justify making payment of death benefits contingent on compliance with a blanket policy.
NAPO appreciates efforts to improve the PSOB program to ensure that it meets the needs of the families of officers who selflessly gave their lives for the safety of our communities. We believe that current legislation needs to reflect legislative changes that address this concern and ensures that officers who rightfully deserve these benefits are in no way denied them.
Officer Safety and The National Blue Alert
2011, was a deadly year for law enforcement, with a total of 177 officer fatalities. In March, Attorney General Eric Holder called for the launch of the Law Enforcement Officer Safety initiative, to which NAPO provided vital input on behalf of rank-and-file.
Throughout the remainder of the year NAPO participated in planning sessions of the Officer Safety and Wellness group as well as in the inaugural meeting. NAPO is committed to ensuring that safety and wellness needs of officers are addressed on a federal level.
The National Blue Alert Act of 2011, (S. 657 in the Senate and H.R. 365 in the House) would establish a National Blue Alert communications network within the Department of Justice to disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. This legislation garnered substantial momentum in the Senate.
In September, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported S. 657 out of committee to be placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar (Calendar No. 160). During the committee mark-up, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered an amendment on behalf of the Sponsors: Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). The amendment was reported favorably and is helpful to rank-and-file by improving the bill in several ways.
First, it defines “law enforcement officer” to be consistent with that used in the Public Safety Officers’ Death Benefits Act. Secondly, the amendment clarifies that the Blue Alert Coordinator should provide assistance to States and local governments that are currently using Blue Alert plans. Next, and perhaps the most prominent change affecting NAPO is the addition of a representative from a law enforcement organization representing rank-and-file officers to the advisory group. Finally, the role of the coordinator is more clearly defined.
Even though the National Blue Alert reported out of committee with bipartisan support of fourteen votes, four Republican Senators voted against passage. This includes Senators Tom Coburn, (R-OK), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Michael Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
In December, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asked unanimous consent that the Senate pass S. 657 (Calendar No. 160). Although NAPO and our members put forth considerable efforts in support of the bill, a Senate Republican did object to the request, thus hindering this effort for passage. Moving forward NAPO will continue to concentrate our efforts in the House to push for the advancement of this legislation.
NAPO has been at the forefront of Officer Safety and continues to distinguish itself as a leader on the topic for rank-and-file.
On October 24th and 25rh NAPO hosted our National Labor Rights Seminar in Orlando, Florida. There were almost 100 members in attendance. The agenda included breakout working groups resulting in best practice solutions and communications plans on implementation of action items. NAPO would like to extend a special thanks to the following NAPO presenters; Rob Nixon with the New Jersey State PBA, Terry Gallagher the current Executive Director of the Ohio PBA and Jeff Pedicino the incoming Executive Director of the Ohio PBA.
The Results of the Labor Rights Seminar tied in with the November victory for public employees in the State of Ohio. Republican Governor John Kasich supported the removal of collective bargaining rights that would affect 350,000 public workers. Over the past few months labor groups, led by the Ohio PBA joined in an effort with teachers and other first responders known as “We Are Ohio” in opposition to the Governor’s position. The group canvassed the streets and worked phone banks to acquire the required number of signatures to put the issue up for a vote on the November ballot. Governor Kasich’s initiative, known as Issue 2 was rejected by voters; defeating a proposal that would have had a detrimental effect on public safety.
The Ohio PBA took the lead to ensure that the ballot language was not convoluted, helping to give the voters a clear signal that a NO vote was appropriate. NAPO President, Tom Nee flew to Ohio to support NAPO’s membership. Terry Gallagher spoke on behalf of the collective bargaining efforts to the media during the election watch event held at the Cleveland Airport. On Tuesday, November 15th members of the Ohio Executive Board attended a victory rally in Euclid, Ohio. Vice President Biden attended the Euclid event to show the support of the Administration.
The Ohio victory should serve as a beacon to public workers across the country. It demonstrates the political power achieved by the unification of police, firefighters, teachers and citizens to form a united front on collective bargaining attacks.
Ohio continues to face an uphill battle with three additional bills still on the table affecting pensions. Now, more than ever, critical events such as NAPO’s Labor Rights Seminar can provide useful information and facilitate critical information sharing and communications initiatives critical to the preservation of collective bargaining.
You are speaking with a possible suspect outside of that person’s residence. He is acting slightly unusual for someone unexpectedly questioned by the police. When asked whether there are weapons anywhere on the property, he stops talking and walks into the house.
Do you follow him into his home?
You have what you believe to be a reasonable concern that this person now presents an imminent danger to you, himself or anyone else inside the home. He was acting nervous. Numerous neighbors had previously voiced fears that he had weapons in his home and would use them if provoked.
However, you do not have a warrant to enter the home. Entering the property without a warrant could open you to claims that you violated the resident’s protection against unfair search and seizures.
Officers in a similar situation chose to enter the home, and were sued by the homeowners.
A high school principal in Burbank, Calif., contacted the local police department after learning that one of her students had reportedly threatened a school shooting. Many parents had kept their children home from school on that particular day out of fear that the rumor was true. Adding to the principal’s concerns, the student in question was a victim of bullying and was not at school that day – two warning signs of school violence.
When the police officers arrived at the student’s house, no one answered the door or the phone. However, the student’s mother answered her cell phone and told police she and her son were in the house. When the officer said he was at the house and would like to speak with her, she and her son reluctantly came outside.
The student and his mother exhibited numerous odd behaviors while talking to the police officers. The mother never asked why the police wanted to talk to her and her son. The son acted surprised that police would investigate his alleged intent to cause harm to his classmates. The mother refused to allow the officers to continue their conversation inside her home, away from the prying eyes of curious neighbors. And instead of answering when asked if there were any weapons in the home, the mother and son went back into the house.
The officers, concerned for their safety and that of anyone else inside the home, followed the mother and son into the house. The officers spoke some more with them and the boy’s father, who eventually joined them all in the living room. The officers determined that the allegations about the student were simply rumors and left without searching the house or any of its inhabitants.
Claiming the officers had violated their Fourth Amendment rights by entering the home without a warrant, the student’s parents sued the police officers in federal court. The case eventually was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided in January that, in light of the strange behavior of the student and his mother, the police officers had a right to enter the home.
Although police generally require a warrant to enter a private property, there are exceptions to that rule. Clearly, police are allowed to enter a home without a warrant if the resident verbally OKs their entrance or if a property search is a condition of community control or parole. The U.S. Supreme Court has also found that there are situations in which an emergency requires police to enter without a warrant.
In 1963, the Court upheld that exigent entrances are permissible if there is a reasonable belief that evidence will be destroyed unless the police enter the property to stop it. And last year, the Court struck down the so-called “police created” doctrine that holds that the exigency cannot be created by police, such as loudly knocking on a door and announcing their presence. The Court found that evidence is not typically destroyed unless there is a concern that the evidence might end up in the hands of law enforcement.
The Court’s recent decision that the reasonable suspicion of imminent danger is also a valid basis for warrantless entry expands the definition of exigent entry. However, caution should be used any time you consider a warrantless entry. Just as there are exceptions to when a warrant is needed, there are exceptions to when an exigent entry is allowed.
This article is not to be considered legal advice. Please consult your police legal advisor regarding any legal issue.
Sherri Bevan Walsh is the Summit County Prosecutor.
Remember Senate Bill 5, the itsy bitsy piece of legislation that consumed the OPBA for eleven months last year? Remember Senate Bill 5's long formation process involving additions, modifications and ultimately the final amendments that resulted in the final legislation?
To refresh your memory, among the last additions to Senate Bill 5 (SB5) were the prohibitions against fair-share agreements and payroll deductions directed to union political action committees. Those additions had nothing to do with SB5's stated purpose – "financial relief and flexibility for strapped public employers" – and everything to do with its real purpose which was to strip unions of their financial resources, the same resources used to elect Democrats and/or to support causes favorable to workers.
Fair-share agreements are essential for any chance of success by a union. Simply put, they are the provision in your contract that requires all employees to either join the union or to pay their fair share to the union. Obviously, such agreements maximize the union's financial resources but they also foster the American tradition that no one (without good cause) should be permitted to get a "free-ride".
Public opinion polls taken last Fall indicated that Ohioans bought into many of SB5's elements. They liked SB5's pay requirements and its anti-seniority prohibitions not to mention its shift in health-care burdens. At least those elements of SB5 supported its stated purpose. Had those elements of SB5 been adopted, public employers could have then followed the tactics routinely used by many private sector non-union employers ie., eliminate the more senior, highly paid employee leaving behind the newer, less paid employees, some of whom are now compensated from a newly created 2nd tier for wages and even benefits.
Had SB5 been limited to include only those aspects addressing employee wages and benefits, it would have been a much tougher fight for your OPBA sponsored "Protector of the Protectors" opposition group to defeat the bill. Instead, Ohioans were wise enough to recognize SB5 for what it was: an over-reach; a law driven by political vindictiveness and a sinister ulterior motive; a hypocritical grab by anti-union/anti-Democratic politicians, who themselves survive and/or thrive from their own special interests' political action committees.
Thankfully, Ohio voters recognized and rejected the "over-reach" that Senate Bill 5 represented. Ohioans sent a resounding message to Kasich and his supporters to back off from any political agenda that serves no purpose other than to eliminate political opposition and worker's rights.
Unfortunately, there still are a substantial amount of misguided and hostile individuals in Ohio and nation-wide who believe that unions are the cause of all evil and a hindrance to the success of the U.S. economy. They have now turned their attention and energy to implementing "right-to-work" laws in many of the 28 states, including Ohio, that currently do not have one.
Right- to-work laws came into effect in 1947 with the passage of the "Taft-Hartley Act" by the U.S. Congress. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed 12 years earlier in 1935, all private sector unions were allowed to enter into labor contracts that required employees at private sector workplaces to either become members of the union or pay their "fair-share" for the union's services and benefits. The Taft-Hartley Act amended the NLRA so as to permit any of the 50 states the ability to pass their own law that would forbid "union shops" in their state. To date, 23 states have implemented a right-to-work law.
Proponents of right-to-work laws of course claim that individual freedom is restricted when workers are forced to pay fees when they do not wish to. Looking beyond that claim, the real motive of right-to-work law proponents is no different than the motive of the over-reaching legislators in Ohio – to weaken the union at the shop level and to undermine the financial resources of the private sector unions who, too, generally support and contribute to Democratic and pro-worker candidates and causes.
This obvious motive notwithstanding, right-to-work campaigns famously assert the line successfully used by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce during its successful campaign for a right-to-work law there – "that the law helps create jobs, because companies searching for a good location won't even consider non-right-to-work states for their business growth and expansion plans."
Whether or not right-to-work laws harm states is a matter of interpretation. Former U.S. Labor Department economist Jared Berstein recently told the Washington Post that "other variables affect the job-growth equation, including natural resources, infrastructure, workforce quality, location, standard of living, schools, tax rates and other policy decisions not related to unionization.
Even our beloved Governor Kasich knows that union shops, and laws allowing fair-share agreements, are not an obstacle to job growth or to a state's fiscal success. Kasich is on record as being "dismissive" of a right-to-work law in Ohio, commenting to the Associated Press that "the public is not prepared for that and does not have an understanding of the issue."
Kasich must concede and disagree with the falsehoods spread by right-to-work proponents because he often boasts about the superior ranking and favorable conditions he has brought to Ohio. Ohio's willingness to permit unions to enjoy full membership has not stopped American Greetings, Wendy's and others from leaving or Ford, Chrysler and Timken from expanding.
The sad fact is that hardly any private sector employees are actually "union" and covered by collective bargaining agreements. There are less than 2 out of every 10 U.S. workers who are union members. Under this circumstance, how much difference could a right-to-work law even make? Except, of course, to the financial resources of the union, some of which support political causes and candidates!
I recently read an article written by Holly Rosenkrantz for Bloomberg News where she quoted a labor law professor from Clark University as saying "There is a very strong likelihood that a Republican Congress and a Republican White House would pass a national right-to-work law. It should be expected from a Republican Congress that, in terms of national jobs growth, sees unions as a part the problem rather than part of the solution."
In the same article, Rosenkrantz wrote that "Labor leaders say Republicans trying to limit unions are misreading public sentiment, as demonstrated by Ohio voters who repealed a law limiting bargaining for public employees". The labor leaders remark that because of the "backlash against governors who have tried to pass anti-worker laws off as job creation, national Republicans would be wise to take heed." The Bloomburg News article closed with a quote from Harley Shaiken, a prominent labor professor at Cal Berkeley, who said "the likelihood of a national right-to-work law dimmed somewhat after the Ohio vote and the effort in Wisconsin to recall Governor Scott Walker, who also won legislation restricting public worker unions.
How about that, members of the OPBA community? Congratulations, you and the rest of the broad based "Vote No" campaign not only shut down Kasich and his cronies, you may have also become the actual catalyst to a country-wide shutdown of this irrational and wasteful right-to-work movement.
Keep up the good work!
Interest rates on most savings vehicles have been and will probably continue to be at record low levels for the foreseeable future. The Federal Reserve Bank has given indications that they are in no hurry to raise interest rates, for fear it could stall the weak economic recovery. According to Bankrate.com, money market rates in the Greater Cleveland area are in the .05%-.20% range. My guess is that your CDs aren’t doing much better; according to Bankrate.com rates on 2 year CDs at banks in the Cleveland area are running in the 1% to 1.25% range.
For those of you who are in DROP, or considering entering it in the future, you need to be aware of potential changes. While DROP is currently earning an attractive 5% according to the Ohio Police & Fire Pension, this rate could change. The Ohio Police & Fire Pension is considering using the 10 year U.S. Treasury rate as a benchmark for the yield in DROP. With 10 year Treasuries currently yielding 2.1% according to the U.S. Department of Treasury, that is a significant change.
Other than rising healthcare costs and college tuition, we haven’t paid much attention to inflation over the recent past because it has been relatively moderate. Things have changed--with energy costs, grocery prices, and everything else going up in cost, more attention is being paid to inflation. Over the last 12 months, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.6%.
Now let’s couple low interest rates with inflation. I don’t want to make your blues worse than they already are, but to make your savings rates look worse, you really should factor in inflation to arrive at your cost-adjusted rate of return. Let’s look at an example: if you had $500,000 in DROP, earning 5% with inflation averaging 3%, and each year you withdrew your interest, at the end of 10 years you would still have $500,000 in DROP. But due to the impact of inflation, the purchasing power of that $500,000 would only be about $369,000. Now you see the bite inflation can have on your savings. Think of the impact if the interest rate in DROP drops to the 10 year Treasury rate.
If your income increases at a rate exceeding inflation, then your monthly budget isn’t getting squeezed; but if inflation is greater that the increase in your wages and other sources of income, you are losing ground. Are you retired and on a fixed budget? That could mean financial stress now and for years to come!
Thinking about making changes in your holdings to gain more interest and stay ahead of inflation? Make an educated decision before you make any moves. Let’s look today at two general assets classes and how they cope in periods of inflation.
Stocks have the potential for growth. As companies face increasing material or labor costs they can pass these increases onto their consumers and maintain their margin of profitability. Many stocks have dividends and a track record of steady dividend increases at a rate greater than the rate of inflation. A type of stock, preferred stocks, have fixed yields that would be viewed as an alternative to conventional fixed income investments.
For many investors, especially those in retirement, bonds serve a great need in their portfolios. Bonds may help create a steady income stream that replaces the paychecks that ended with retirement. However bonds have historically not been a good hedge against inflation. The interest on a bond is not indexed to inflation--it does not increase as time goes on, and the purchasing power of the income is reduced because of inflation. Let’s say you have a $1000 bond with a 5% coupon that matures in 10 years; today the income will buy $50 worth of goods and services. In ten years, assuming you still own the bond, you will still get $50 in interest, but it won’t buy the same amount of goods and services it did back in 2011.
Likewise, when the bond matures you will get your face amount, $1000. But it will not buy $1000 worth of goods and services because your principal isn’t indexed to inflation. You are being repaid in deflated dollars. If inflation were to be 3% over the ten year period you held this bond, you would get repaid in dollars that would only buy about $700 in goods and service.
Bonds are subject to interest rate risk; as interest rates rise, the value of bonds tends to move in the opposite direction and decline in value. However, this interest rate risk can be eliminated if you plan to hold the bonds until they mature.
Insurance companies frequently have time deposits, or fixed annuities, which offer rates which may exceed competing time deposit vehicles. A tradeoff is that you will probably limit your access to those funds while they are earning a higher interest rate.
Inflation is just one of many factors you should consider when evaluating investment alternatives. You cannot overlook other considerations--including risk, income needs, and taxes, just to name a few. Your portfolio should be constructed with the needs and constraints of your individual situation in mind.
Don’t let low interest rates coupled with rising inflation get you down! Remember, before you make a change to get higher yields, make sure you fully understand the impact the move could have on you. If you would like to discuss any move you are considering, give Lineweaver Financial Group a call at 216.520.1711 to arrange a complimentary consultation available to all OPBA members.
Lineweaver Financial Group
9035 Sweet Valley Drive
Valley View, OH 44125
Securities offered through Sigma Financial Corporation. Member FINRA/SIPC
Rate of return is for illustrative purposes only and is not indicative of any particular investment; your results will vary. Past market performance is no guarantee of future investment performance or success.
I have tried to include Bills that have been introduced in the Senate and House of the Ohio Legislature that may be of interest to the membership. They are all in various steps in the process. If you were to go to the Ohio Legislative website, http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/ and enter the appropriate bill number for the House or Senate Bills listed it will allow you to track each bill, read the bill analysis and fiscal notes if they are available.
The OPBA will be contacting the sponsors of HB 422 which was introduced on January 24, 2012 in an effort to meet and discuss the reasoning behind its introduction prior to any further action moving forward. The OPBA feels this bill on its face clearly creates dangerous situations to those working in law enforcement. See a synopsis of this bill below.
Senate Judiciary, (Chr. Wagoner, M., 466-8060)
MAYOR'S COURTS (Patton, T.) To increase from more than 100 to more than 200 the population necessary for a municipal corporation to have a mayor's court unless the municipal corporation is located entirely on an island in Lake Erie.
TRESPASSING (Seitz, B.) To specify the responsibility of a possessor of real property to a trespasser and the circumstances in which the possessor may be liable in a tort action for the death or injury of a trespasser.
COURT INTIMIDATION (Burke, D., Letson, T.) To specify that the offense of intimidation of an attorney, victim, or witness in a criminal case also applies to delinquency cases and to any attempt to influence, intimidate, or hinder a witness to a criminal or delinquent act and to create an affirmative defense to a charge of intimidation of an attorney, victim, or witness in a criminal case.
House Judiciary & Ethics, (Chr. Bubp, D., 644-6034)
SEARCH & RESCUE DOGS (Goyal, J., Ruhl, M.) To provide protections for search and rescue dogs and to make changes to the law regarding emergency volunteers.
House Health & Aging, (Chr. Wachtmann, L., 466-3760)
HB 69 PENSION REFORM BILL- This Bill is pending for a synopsis go to the Ohio Legislative
website for the complete Bill analysis.
HB 388 This bill is pending which could affect payment of public
retirement benefits to individuals if they become re-employed with a public entity under
certain circumstances. (Damschroder, Thompson, Pelanda)
SB 3 PENSION REFORM BILL- This bill is pending for a synopsis go to the Ohio Legislative
website for the complete bill analysis. (companion bill from the Senate)
House Health & Aging, (Chr. Wachtmann, L., 466-3760)
PSEUDOPHEDRINE TRACKING (Johnson, T.) Regarding the participation of pharmacies, retailers, and the Attorney General in electronically tracking pseudoephedrine and ephedrine product sales through a national exchange.
PRESCRIPTION DISPENSING (Johnson, T., Gonzales, A.) To prohibit a pharmacist from substituting another drug for a tamper resistant opioid analgesic drug unless the substituted drug is also tamper resistant or consent is obtained from the prescribing health professional.
House Criminal Justice, (Chr. Slaby, L., 644-5085)
JURY TRIALS (Slaby, L., O'Brien, S.) To authorize prosecuting attorneys to demand a jury trial in a criminal case, notwithstanding a defendant's waiver of trial by jury and over a defendant's objection.
PENSION TRUSTEE FELONIES (Dovilla, M.) To add extortion and perjury to the felonies committed by a public retirement system member while serving in a position of honor, trust, or profit under the law governing the forfeiture of retirement system benefits and the termination of retirement system disability benefits.
Senate Government Oversight & Reform, (Chr. Coley, B., 466-8072)
ETHICS LAW (Lehner, P.) To require persons who are elected or appointed to, or who are candidates for, an office of a township with a population of five thousand or more to file statements under the Ethics law.
Newly Introduced Bills:
CONCEALED WEAPONS (Maag, R., Thompson, A.) To repeal requirements that a concealed carry licensee inform an approaching law enforcement officer that the licensee is a licensee and is carrying a concealed handgun and keep the licensee's hands in plain sight after the officer begins approaching and until the officer leaves; to remove from a general requirement that a licensee stopped for a law enforcement purpose comply with lawful orders of a law enforcement officer a reference to orders to keep the licensee's hands in sight; to revise the definition of "unloaded" that applies to the offense of "improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle"; to repeal the concealed carry license suspension required for certain misdemeanor convictions of that offense; and to conform certain provisions to changes to that offense made by Sub. S.B. 17 of the 129th General Assembly. Am. 2923.12, 2923.124, 2923.126, 2923.128, and 2923.16.
CCW/STATE GARAGES (Maag, R., Johnson, T.) With respect to authority for concealed carry licensees to possess or store a handgun in a motor vehicle in the State Underground Parking Garage or in any parking garage or lot that is owned and operated by the Ohio Building Authority or is all or part of a state government facility. Am. 105.41, 152.08, 2923.126, and 2923.16.
House Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security, (Chr. Combs, C., 644-6721)
BLUE ALERT (Manning, G.) To create the Statewide Blue Alert Program. (1st Hearing-Sponsor (Pending referral))
For years the accepted wisdom was that you could not obtain disability benefits through any state pension fund for a temporary condition. Only permanently disabling conditions were thought to qualify.
However, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that an officer temporarily disabled by depression unrelated to his work was entitled to disability benefits through the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund.
In the case of State ex rel. Tindira v. OP & F, 130 Ohio St. 3d 62, the Court seized on the difference in language under two different sections of R.C. 742.38. Under 742.38 (b), it states:
“(b)” ‘Permanently disabled’ means a condition of disability from which there is no present indication of recovery.
“A member of the fund who is permanently and totally disabled as the result of the performance of the member’s official duties as a member of a police or fire department shall be paid annual disability benefits in accordance with division (A) of section 742.39 of the Revised Code. In determining whether a member of the fund is permanently and totally disabled, the board shall consider standards adopted under division (C) of this section applicable to the determination.
Further on in the same statute, however, it states the following:
“4) A member of the fund who has completed five or more years of active service in a police or fire department and has incurred a disability not caused or induced by the actual performance of the member’s official duties as a member of the department, or by the member’s own negligence, shall if the disability prevents the member from performing those duties and impairs the member’s earning capacity, receive annual disability benefits in accordance with division (C) of section 742.39 of the Revised Code. In determining whether a member of the fund is disabled, the board shall consider standards adopted under division (C) of this section applicable to the determination.”
The first paragraph uses the qualifiers “permanently and totally” in describing the disability. The second paragraph eliminated those modifiers. The Court thus reasoned that a temporary disability could qualify for benefits under the latter section assuming the other requirements were met.
While the Court’s analysis is hard to argue with it seems doubtful that the state legislature intended such an outcome. The Court’s interpretation creates an anomaly:
If you are injured on-the-job, your disability must be permanent and total. But if you are injured off-the-job, the disability need not be permanent. Presumably it need not be totally disabling, either.
If the legislature did not intend such an outcome I expect they will get busy drafting legislation to fix this.