A measure revamping police and firefighter pension benefits approved under former Gov. Jeb Bush, along with weapons and body camera legislation were among 44 bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott.
The municipal pension changes had divided cities and unions for years, but were approved amid rising concerns about the cost of benefits OK’d by Bush, now a likely presidential contender.
The pension sweeteners were the first bill signed into law by Bush as governor, and were a payback for police and firefighter union support in his 1998 victory over Democrat Buddy MacKay.
The legislation (SB 172) signed by Scott basically rewrites state law to include terms of an interpretation of pension benefits crafted by the state Department of Management Services.
The agency gave cities some leeway in providing union members with extra benefits if governments can make a case that there are insufficient tax dollars to cover them. The bill also increases minimum accrual rates and puts a cap on overtime hours for calculating police benefits.
Another bill signed by Scott allow weapons to be carried (SB 290) without a permit for the first 48 hours following a mandatory evacuation order, such as during a hurricane.
Once gun-carriers look for housing in a shelter, bans on weapons could still apply. Schools and many other public buildings ban visitors from entering with weapons — so the gun-carrier would have to find another place to take refuge or stow weapons elsewhere.
Scott also signed into law a measure (SB 248) allowing body camera recording made by a law enforcement official in certain situations to be exempt from public records.
Supporters said the move was designed to protect the privacy of residents when police entered a home in response to a complaint. Critics warned the exemption could be misused, and shield recordings that could prove significant if claims of excessive use-of-force by law enforcement were made.
But law enforcement lobbyists said the exemption will encourage the broader use of body cameras.
Original article here.