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Collective bargaining legislation splits law enforcement

There's something about the House Government Affairs Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Robert Schenck, a Spring Hill Republican, that generates some controversial meetings.

First, the leadership fund bill. And second, the 911 ban bill. Then, the prohibition on red-light cameras. And now, a bill to allow constitutional officers to settle collective bargaining impasses for their agencies. Rep. Alan Hays' legislation (HB417) went through the ringer Thursday morning and a last-minute amendment changed the bill, though the implications are still unclear and the sponsor indicated he would change it back. About 35 sheriff's deputies attended the meeting, armed and in uniform. But the law enforcement community can't get it's act together on this legislation.

In practice, the legislation (which is ready for the floor in the Senate) would let a sheriff declare an impasse with his deputies concerning salary and then resolve that impasse unilaterally. "It defeats the purpose of collective bargaining ... where one man can be the judge, the jury and the executioner," said Armando Aguilar, the president of the Miami chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The FOP, Police Benevolent Association and Florida Sheriff's Association all took different sides, and then changed sides after the Rep. Paige Kreegel's amendment passed. One lobbyist just waived his time to speak about the bill all together. "I don't want a ticket on my car when I leave here," he joked.

Three of the committees four Democrats -- Rep. Oscar Braynon, the lone holdout -- voted in favor of the bill, despite it's limits on union bargaining. Hays, a committee chairman, then jokingly -- or not -- threatened Braynon, "I have a good memory."