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House unit OKs Brady Bill; Senate amendment proposes trust fund.

The NLC-supported Brady Bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee 23-12, last week, and is scheduled for consideration by the full House on Wednesday Nov. 10.

As it stands, the bill would authorize $100 million per year, beginning in 1994, to phase in an instant background check system and would require a five day waiting period for any person who wants to purchase a handgun.

Both the House and Senate began debate over anti-crime bills last week. Only the House completed the task. The House approved four authorizing bills, three of which would provide important federal assistance to cities and towns for local anti-crime activities.

A key initiative would provide $3.5 billion - ever six years - to hire and rehire 50,000 police officers for community policing activities. Two others would fund grants for substance abuse programs in local correctional facilities and programs to reduce juvenile gang activities.

The fourth, although not targeted directly toward municipalities, would address local concerns about drug-addicted criminals being released back into the community without treatment. This bill would establish residential treatment programs within federal prisons.

In total, of the six bills reported out of the Judiciary Committee, the House approved four and rejected one, another is currently under consideration in the Education and Labor Committee. A Procedure, reserved for non-controversial bills in which a two-thirds vote is required for passage, was used to move the four bills on the floor.

The Senate

In the Senate, overwhelming bipartisan support helped to pass an amendment effectively doubling the authorization level for its crime bill to $22.3 billion over five years. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) was chief sponsor of the amendment, which proposes the creation of a "violent crime reduction trust fund" financed by the savings achieved through reductions in federal jobs.

Unlike the House, the Senate has retained an omnibus package. however, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Joseph Biden (D-Del.) introduced a new bill, November 1. In addition to increasing the authorization amount for the "cops on the beat" initiative, one significant change from the original bill, S. 1488, is the removal of the police officers bill of rights study provisions. As the bill went to the floor, it is fully expected that a federally mandated police officers' bill of rights will be offered as an amendment to the anticrime package. NLC strongly opposes such a mandate.

The House

Measure HR 3355, approved by voice vote, would provide $3.5 billion over six years to hire or rehire new police officers for communities policing activities. Sixty percent of the funds would target hiring and rehiring. The remaining 40 percent would be reserved for other grant projects including increasing the number of police for pro-active youth activities, early intervention programs, and programs to reduce officer court appearances.

Provisions to determine how the total authorization was to be allocated was modified between committee markup and floor action.

As in the original bill, cities of all sizes would be eligible to apply for grants. What changed is how the funds would split between those cities with populations over 100,000 and those below. The House-passed bill has the funds evenly split between cities with populations above 100,000 or multi-city consortiums with total populations over 100,000 that could apply directly to the Attorney General. Those with less than 100,000 population forward applications to the States for ranking. All applications passed through the States would then be forwarded to the Attorney General.

The overview of the other two bills, HR 3354 approved by a 394-32 vote and HR 3353 approved 413-12, can be found in the November 1 edition of The, Weekly.

The House rejected 235-192, HR 3351, a $200 million grant program to establish alternative methods of punishment for youth offenders. The legislation sought alternatives, such as boot camps, that would ensure the certainty of punishment, reduce recidivism, emphasize crime prevention and assist the victims of crime. One of the issues stopping the bill was the age of those individuals who would be eligible for these type programs.

The Police Officers' Bill of Rights Among those provisions in HR 3131 referred back to subcommittee is Title XI, Provisions Relating to Police Officers which includes the NLC-supported police bill of rights study provisions. The future of the study and when the matter of a federally mandated police bill of rights in the House will become an issue is uncertain. However, the Senate is poised to raise it at any time.
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Author:Quist, Janet
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 8, 1993
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