Release time likely violates gift clause

Maricopa Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper has ruled that the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association can’t spend taxpayer money to pay officers for union work, instead of law enforcement duties. The judge ruled that union “release time” is likely a violation of Arizona’s gift clause, because it is not for a public purpose, but instead serves the private interests of PLEA.

A contract agreed to by Phoenix and PLEA allows more than one million dollars to be spent for six police officers to do union work instead of traditional law enforcement, otherwise known as “release time.”
Senator Rick Murphy says that the ruling is vindication for Senate Bill 1486 which passed comfortably in the Senate in February, but died in the House of Representatives when House leadership blocked the bill from going to the floor.

SB 1486 prohibited a public employer from compensating a public employee for non duty-related union activities.

Murphy said that instead of agreeing to reasonable restrictions, the unions gambled on an all-or-nothing approach, and with this ruling, they have nothing. “Judge Cooper made the proper decision, and we are going to see the end of release time in our state,” says Senator Murphy. “Taxpayers expect our great men and women in blue to protect and serve, not lobby for legislation that benefits the union.”

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