By Hinojosa                                           H.B. No. 2750

         75R8694 GJH-F                           

                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

 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 firefighter or police officer is entitled to

 2-4     appropriate additional wages if:

 2-5                 (1)  the firefighter or police officer provides a

 2-6     service to the department that uses an additional language skill

 2-7     possessed by the firefighter or police officer; and

 2-8                 (2)  the additional language skill used is outside the

 2-9     course and scope of the firefighter or police officer's position as

2-10     indicated by the firefighter or police officer's official job

2-11     description.

2-12           Sec. 141.053.  DEPARTMENTAL GUIDELINES.  The fire or police

2-13     department shall establish guidelines to determine:

2-14                 (1)  the types of additional language skills and the

2-15     levels of fluency in additional language skills that require a

2-16     department to pay additional wages under this section; and

2-17                 (2)  the appropriate levels of additional wages.

2-18           Sec. 141.054.  CIVIL PENALTY.  A department that requires a

2-19     firefighter or police officer to use for the benefit of the

2-20     department additional language skills possessed by the firefighter

2-21     or police officer without the payment of additional wages is liable

2-22     to the firefighter or police officer for damages in the amount of

2-23     $500 for each day the requirement is imposed without the payment of

2-24     additional wages.

2-25           SECTION 2.  Section 143.113(c), Local Government Code, is

2-26     amended  to read as follows:

2-27           (c)  The municipality's governing body shall [may] authorize

 3-1     assignment pay for bilingual personnel performing specialized

 3-2     functions as interpreters or translators in their respective

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

 3-4     under conditions set by ordinance and is in addition to the regular

 3-5     pay received by members of the fire or police department.  If the

 3-6     ordinance applies equally to each person who meets the criteria

 3-7     established by the ordinance, the ordinance may provide for payment

 3-8     to each fire fighter or police officer who meets testing or other

 3-9     certification criteria for an assignment, or the ordinance may set

3-10     criteria that will determine the foreign languages in which a

3-11     person must be fluent or other criteria for eligibility.  The

3-12     ordinance may provide for different rates of pay according to a

3-13     person's capability and may allow more pay to those persons who are

3-14     capable of translating orally and into written English.  The heads

3-15     of the fire and police departments are not eligible for the

3-16     assignment pay authorized by this subsection.

3-17           SECTION 3.  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this

3-18     section, this Act takes effect September 1, 1997.

3-19           (b)  Section 141.054, Local Government Code, as added by this

3-20     Act, takes effect January 1, 1998.

3-21           (c)  The change in the law made by Section 141.054, Local

3-22     Government Code, applies only to the use of additional language

3-23     skills on or after January 1, 1998.

3-24           SECTION 4.  The importance of this legislation and the

3-25     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an

3-26     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the

3-27     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several

 4-1     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.

 4-2                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT NO. 1

 4-3           Amend H.B. 2750 as follows:

 4-4           At page 2, line 3, between "officer" and "is" the following:

 4-5     "designated as a bilingual interpreter".

 4-6           At page 2, after line 13, insert a new subparagraph (1) of

 4-7     Sec. 141.053 and renumber the following subparagraphs as

 4-8     appropriate:

 4-9                 (1)  The number of designated bilingual interpreters

4-10     needed by the department;

4-11           On page 2, delete lines 18 though 24 and replace with the

4-12     following:

4-13           Sec. 141.054.  CIVIL PENALTY.  A department that fails to

4-14     compensate a firefighter or police officer entitled and qualified

4-15     to receive additional wages under this subchapter and the

4-16     departmental guidelines established under Sec. 141.053 is liable to

4-17     the firefighter or police officer for damages in the amount of lost

4-18     wages plus interest at the rate of 5% per annum.

4-19                                                                Ehrhardt