1-1                                   AN ACT

 1-2     relating to certain municipal firefighters and police officers

 1-3     entitled to additional wages; providing a civil penalty.


 1-5           SECTION 1.  Chapter 141, Local Government Code, is amended by

 1-6     adding Subchapter C to read as follows:


 1-8                      FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS

 1-9           Sec. 141.051.  DEFINITIONS.  In this subchapter:

1-10                 (1)  "Additional language skill" means fluency in a

1-11     language other than English.

1-12                 (2)  "Firefighter" means a full-time member of a

1-13     municipal fire department who performs:

1-14                       (A)  fire suppression;

1-15                       (B)  fire prevention;

1-16                       (C)  fire training;

1-17                       (D)  fire safety education;

1-18                       (E)  fire maintenance;

1-19                       (F)  fire communications;

1-20                       (G)  fire medical emergency technology;

1-21                       (H)  fire photography; or

1-22                       (I)  fire administration.

1-23                 (3)  "Police officer" means a member of a municipal

1-24     police department who is a licensed peace officer under Section

 2-1     415.052, Government Code.


 2-3     SERVICES.  A fire or police department may designate a firefighter

 2-4     or police officer as a bilingual interpreter.  A firefighter or

 2-5     police officer who is designated as a bilingual interpreter under

 2-6     this section is entitled to appropriate additional wages if:

 2-7                 (1)  the firefighter or police officer provides a

 2-8     service to the department that uses an additional language skill

 2-9     possessed by the firefighter or police officer; and

2-10                 (2)  the additional language skill used is outside the

2-11     course and scope of the firefighter or police officer's position as

2-12     indicated by the firefighter or police officer's official job

2-13     description.

2-14           Sec. 141.053.  DEPARTMENTAL GUIDELINES.  A fire or police

2-15     department that designates a firefighter or police officer as a

2-16     bilingual interpreter under Section 141.052 shall establish

2-17     guidelines to determine:

2-18                 (1)  the number of designated bilingual interpreters

2-19     needed by the department;

2-20                 (2)  the types of additional language skills and the

2-21     levels of fluency in additional language skills that require a

2-22     department to pay additional wages under this section; and

2-23                 (3)  the appropriate levels of additional wages.

2-24           Sec. 141.054.  CIVIL PENALTY.  A department that fails to

2-25     compensate a firefighter or police officer entitled and qualified

2-26     to receive additional wages under this subchapter and the

2-27     departmental guidelines established under Section 141.053 is liable

 3-1     to the firefighter or police officer for damages in the amount of

 3-2     lost wages plus interest at the rate of 5 percent per annum.

 3-3           SECTION 2.  Section 143.113(c), Local Government Code, is

 3-4     amended  to read as follows:

 3-5           (c)  The municipality's governing body shall [may] authorize

 3-6     assignment pay for bilingual personnel performing specialized

 3-7     functions as interpreters or translators in their respective

 3-8     departments.  The assignment pay is in an amount and is payable

 3-9     under conditions set by ordinance and is in addition to the regular

3-10     pay received by members of the fire or police department.  If the

3-11     ordinance applies equally to each person who meets the criteria

3-12     established by the ordinance, the ordinance may provide for payment

3-13     to each fire fighter or police officer who meets testing or other

3-14     certification criteria for an assignment, or the ordinance may set

3-15     criteria that will determine the foreign languages in which a

3-16     person must be fluent or other criteria for eligibility.  The

3-17     ordinance may provide for different rates of pay according to a

3-18     person's capability and may allow more pay to those persons who are

3-19     capable of translating orally and into written English.  The heads

3-20     of the fire and police departments are not eligible for the

3-21     assignment pay authorized by this subsection.

3-22           SECTION 3.  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this

3-23     section, this Act takes effect September 1, 1997.

3-24           (b)  Section 141.054, Local Government Code, as added by this

3-25     Act, takes effect January 1, 1998.

3-26           (c)  The change in the law made by Section 141.054, Local

3-27     Government Code, applies only to the use of additional language

 4-1     skills on or after January 1, 1998.

 4-2           SECTION 4.  The importance of this legislation and the

 4-3     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an

 4-4     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the

 4-5     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several

 4-6     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.

         _______________________________     _______________________________

             President of the Senate              Speaker of the House

               I certify that H.B. No. 2750 was passed by the House on May

         16, 1997, by a non-record vote.


                                                 Chief Clerk of the House

               I certify that H.B. No. 2750 was passed by the Senate on May

         26, 1997, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.


                                                 Secretary of the Senate

         APPROVED:  _____________________