1-1     By:  Hinojosa (Senate Sponsor - Lucio)                H.B. No. 2750

 1-2           (In the Senate - Received from the House May 16, 1997;

 1-3     May 16, 1997, read first time and referred to Committee on

 1-4     Intergovernmental Relations; May 17, 1997, reported favorably by

 1-5     the following vote:  Yeas 9, Nays 0; May 17, 1997, sent to

 1-6     printer.)

 1-7                            A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

 1-8                                   AN ACT

 1-9     relating to certain municipal firefighters and police officers

1-10     entitled to additional wages; providing a civil penalty.


1-12           SECTION 1.  Chapter 141, Local Government Code, is amended by

1-13     adding Subchapter C to read as follows:


1-15                      FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS

1-16           Sec. 141.051.  DEFINITIONS.  In this subchapter:

1-17                 (1)  "Additional language skill" means fluency in a

1-18     language other than English.

1-19                 (2)  "Firefighter" means a full-time member of a

1-20     municipal fire department who performs:

1-21                       (A)  fire suppression;

1-22                       (B)  fire prevention;

1-23                       (C)  fire training;

1-24                       (D)  fire safety education;

1-25                       (E)  fire maintenance;

1-26                       (F)  fire communications;

1-27                       (G)  fire medical emergency technology;

1-28                       (H)  fire photography; or

1-29                       (I)  fire administration.

1-30                 (3)  "Police officer" means a member of a municipal

1-31     police department who is a licensed peace officer under Section

1-32     415.052, Government Code.


1-34     SERVICES.  A fire or police department may designate a firefighter

1-35     or police officer as a bilingual interpreter.  A firefighter or

1-36     police officer who is designated as a bilingual interpreter under

1-37     this section is entitled to appropriate additional wages if:

1-38                 (1)  the firefighter or police officer provides a

1-39     service to the department that uses an additional language skill

1-40     possessed by the firefighter or police officer; and

1-41                 (2)  the additional language skill used is outside the

1-42     course and scope of the firefighter or police officer's position as

1-43     indicated by the firefighter or police officer's official job

1-44     description.

1-45           Sec. 141.053.  DEPARTMENTAL GUIDELINES.  A fire or police

1-46     department that designates a firefighter or police officer as a

1-47     bilingual interpreter under Section 141.052 shall establish

1-48     guidelines to determine:

1-49                 (1)  the number of designated bilingual interpreters

1-50     needed by the department;

1-51                 (2)  the types of additional language skills and the

1-52     levels of fluency in additional language skills that require a

1-53     department to pay additional wages under this section; and

1-54                 (3)  the appropriate levels of additional wages.

1-55           Sec. 141.054.  CIVIL PENALTY.  A department that fails to

1-56     compensate a firefighter or police officer entitled and qualified

1-57     to receive additional wages under this subchapter and the

1-58     departmental guidelines established under Section 141.053 is liable

1-59     to the firefighter or police officer for damages in the amount of

1-60     lost wages plus interest at the rate of 5 percent per annum.

1-61           SECTION 2.  Section 143.113(c), Local Government Code, is

1-62     amended  to read as follows:

1-63           (c)  The municipality's governing body shall [may] authorize

1-64     assignment pay for bilingual personnel performing specialized

 2-1     functions as interpreters or translators in their respective

 2-2     departments.  The assignment pay is in an amount and is payable

 2-3     under conditions set by ordinance and is in addition to the regular

 2-4     pay received by members of the fire or police department.  If the

 2-5     ordinance applies equally to each person who meets the criteria

 2-6     established by the ordinance, the ordinance may provide for payment

 2-7     to each fire fighter or police officer who meets testing or other

 2-8     certification criteria for an assignment, or the ordinance may set

 2-9     criteria that will determine the foreign languages in which a

2-10     person must be fluent or other criteria for eligibility.  The

2-11     ordinance may provide for different rates of pay according to a

2-12     person's capability and may allow more pay to those persons who are

2-13     capable of translating orally and into written English.  The heads

2-14     of the fire and police departments are not eligible for the

2-15     assignment pay authorized by this subsection.

2-16           SECTION 3.  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this

2-17     section, this Act takes effect September 1, 1997.

2-18           (b)  Section 141.054, Local Government Code, as added by this

2-19     Act, takes effect January 1, 1998.

2-20           (c)  The change in the law made by Section 141.054, Local

2-21     Government Code, applies only to the use of additional language

2-22     skills on or after January 1, 1998.

2-23           SECTION 4.  The importance of this legislation and the

2-24     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an

2-25     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the

2-26     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several

2-27     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.

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