JH H.B. 2750 75(R) BILL ANALYSIS URBAN AFFAIRS H.B. 2750 By: Hinojosa 5-8-97 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND Many firefighter and police officers have often responded to emergency calls on incidents which would require an additional language. Any additional language skill becomes an essential tool in many emergency situation. This skills enables officers to address calls promptly and accordingly. As result of this need, many participating cities have adopted rules to increase compensation of officers for language skills by examining their other than English language skill proficiency. PURPOSE Provides for certain municipal firefighters and police officers additional wages for the use and fluency of an additional language skill other than English. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1: Amends Chapter 141 of the Local Government Code by adding Subchapter C. to include: Additional wages for certain municipal firefighters and police officers. Section 141.051. (1) Defines "additional language," by the fluency in a language other than English. (2) Defines "Firefighter, " as a full-time member of the municipal fire department who performs the following: fire suppression, prevention, training, safety education, maintenance, communications, medical emergency technology, photography, and administration. (3) Defines "Police officer," as a member of a municipal police department who is a licensed peace officer under Section 415.052, Government Code. Section 141.052 Entitles additional wages for firefighters or police officers who provide the department with additional language skills and the additional language is used outside of the course and scope of their official job description. Section 141.053 Establishes departmental guidelines. The department shall establish guidelines to determine types of additional language skills and levels of frequency that require additional wages and establishes appropriate levels of additional wages. Section 141.054 Imposes Civil Penalty for a department to require a firefighter or police officer to use the additional language without additional wages. The department would be charged $500.00 for each day the requirement is imposed without payment of additional wages. SECTION 2: Amends section 143.113(c), of the Local Government Code to read "shall" instead of "may" authorize additional funds for bilingual employees. SECTION 3:(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this section this act takes effect September 1, 1997. (b)Section 141.054, Local Government Code as added by this act takes effect January 1998. (c) Section The change in the law made by Section 141.054, Local Government Code, applies only to the use of additional language skills on or after January 1, 1998. SECTION 4: Emergency clause; effective date: upon passage. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS Committee Amendment No. 1 provides that a firefighter or police officer must be a designated interpreter to receive additional wages, adds a requiremnet that the fire or police department determine the number of interpreters needed, and changes the civil penalty paid by a department for failing to pay required additional wages from $500 per day to lost wages, plus 5% interest.