This website will be unavailable from Friday, April 26, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, April 29, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

 
 
  By: Patterson H.B. No. 471
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to benefits for certain first responders and other
  employees related to illness and injury.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle C, Title 5, Local Government Code, is
  amended by adding Chapter 177A to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 177A. ILLNESS OR INJURY LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR COUNTY AND
  MUNICIPAL FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE OFFICERS, AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL
  SERVICES PERSONNEL
         Sec. 177A.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Emergency medical services personnel" means a
  person described by Section 773.003, Health and Safety Code, who is
  a paid employee of a county or municipality.
               (2)  "Firefighter" means a firefighter who is a
  permanent, paid employee of the fire department of a political
  subdivision. The term includes the chief of the department. The
  term does not include a volunteer firefighter.
               (3)  "Police officer" means a paid employee who is
  full-time, holds an officer license issued under Chapter 1701,
  Occupations Code, and regularly serves in a professional law
  enforcement capacity in the police department of a county or
  municipality. The term includes the chief of the department.
         Sec. 177A.002.  EFFECT ON LABOR AGREEMENTS. Notwithstanding
  any other law, including Section 142.067, 142.117, 143.207,
  143.307, 143.361, 147.004, or 174.005, a collective bargaining,
  meet and confer, or other similar agreement that provides a benefit
  for an ill or injured employee must provide a benefit that, at a
  minimum, complies with this chapter.
         Sec. 177A.003.  LINE OF DUTY ILLNESS OR INJURY LEAVE OF
  ABSENCE. (a)  A county or municipality shall provide to a
  firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical services
  personnel a leave of absence for an illness or injury related to the
  person's line of duty. The leave is with full pay for a period
  commensurate with the nature of the line of duty illness or injury.  
  If necessary, the county or municipality shall continue the leave
  for at least one year.
         (b)  At the end of the one-year period, the county's or
  municipality's governing body may extend the leave of absence under
  Subsection (a) at full or reduced pay.  If the firefighter's, police
  officer's, or emergency medical services personnel's leave is not
  extended or the person's salary is reduced below 60 percent of the
  person's regular monthly salary and the person is a member of a
  retirement system with disability retirement benefits, the person
  is considered eligible to receive the disability retirement
  benefits until able to return to duty.
         (c)  If the firefighter, police officer, or emergency
  medical services personnel is not a member of a retirement system
  with disability retirement benefits and is temporarily disabled by
  a line of duty injury or illness and if the one-year period and any
  extensions granted by the governing body have expired, the person
  may use accumulated sick leave, vacation time, and other accrued
  benefits before the person is placed on temporary leave.
         (d)  If the one-year period and any extensions granted by the
  governing body have expired, the firefighter, police officer, or
  emergency medical services personnel is placed on temporary leave.
         Sec. 177A.004.  OTHER ILLNESS OR INJURY LEAVE OF ABSENCE.  A
  firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical services
  personnel who is temporarily disabled by an injury or illness that
  is not related to the person's line of duty may:
               (1)  use accumulated sick leave, vacation time, and
  other accrued benefits before the person is placed on temporary
  leave; or
               (2)  have another firefighter, police officer, or
  emergency medical services personnel volunteer to do the person's
  work while the person is temporarily disabled by the injury or
  illness.
         Sec. 177A.005.  RETURN TO DUTY. (a)  If able, a firefighter,
  police officer, or emergency medical services personnel may return
  to light duty while recovering from a temporary disability. If
  medically necessary, the light duty assignment may continue for at
  least one year.
         (b)  After recovery from a temporary disability, a
  firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical services
  personnel shall be reinstated at the same rank and with the same
  seniority the person had before going on temporary leave. Another
  firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical services
  personnel may voluntarily do the work of an injured firefighter,
  police officer, or emergency medical services personnel until the
  person returns to duty.
         SECTION 2.  Section 408.161, Labor Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (b-1) and (e) to
  read as follows:
         (a)  Lifetime income benefits are paid until the death of the
  employee for:
               (1)  total and permanent loss of sight in both eyes;
               (2)  loss of both feet at or above the ankle;
               (3)  loss of both hands at or above the wrist;
               (4)  loss of one foot at or above the ankle and the loss
  of one hand at or above the wrist;
               (5)  an injury to the spine that results in permanent
  and complete paralysis of both arms, both legs, or one arm and one
  leg;
               (6)  a physically traumatic injury to the brain
  resulting in a permanent major neurocognitive disorder or a
  psychotic disorder [incurable insanity or imbecility]; [or]
               (7)  third degree burns that cover at least 40 percent
  of the body and require grafting, or third degree burns covering the
  majority of:
                     (A)  [either] both hands;
                     (B)  both feet;
                     (C)  one hand and one foot; or
                     (D)  one hand or foot and the face; or
               (8)  a serious bodily injury sustained by the employee
  in the course and scope of the employee's employment or volunteer
  service as a first responder that permanently prevents the employee
  from performing any gainful work.
         (b-1)  In this section:
               (1)  "First responder" has the meaning assigned by
  Section 421.095, Government Code.
               (2)  "Serious bodily injury" has the meaning assigned
  by Section 1.07, Penal Code.
         (e)  Adjudication of lifetime income benefits for a first
  responder may proceed in the manner prescribed for an expedited
  proceeding under Section 504.055.
         SECTION 3.  Section 607.052(b), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (b)  A presumption under this subchapter does not apply:
               (1)  to a determination of a survivor's eligibility for
  benefits under Chapter 615;
               (2)  in a cause of action brought in a state or federal
  court except for judicial review of a proceeding in which there has
  been a grant or denial of employment-related benefits or
  compensation;
               (3)  to a determination regarding benefits or
  compensation under a life or disability insurance policy purchased
  by or on behalf of the detention officer, custodial officer,
  firefighter, peace officer, or emergency medical technician that
  provides coverage in addition to any benefits or compensation
  required by law; or
               (4)  if the disease or illness for which benefits or
  compensation is sought is known to be caused by the use of tobacco
  and:
                     (A)  the firefighter, peace officer, or emergency
  medical technician has used a tobacco product an average of four or
  more times per week during any six-month period in the five years
  preceding the diagnosis of the disease or illness [is or has been a
  user of tobacco]; or
                     (B)  the firefighter's, peace officer's, or
  emergency medical technician's spouse has, during the marriage,
  used a tobacco product that is consumed through smoking an average
  of four or more times per week during any six-month period in the
  five years preceding the diagnosis of the disease or illness [been a
  user of tobacco that is consumed through smoking].
         SECTION 4.  Section 607.056, Government Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 607.056.  ACUTE MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION OR STROKE. (a)  A
  firefighter, peace officer, or emergency medical technician who
  suffers an acute myocardial infarction or stroke resulting in
  disability or death is presumed to have suffered the disability or
  death during the course and scope of employment as a firefighter,
  peace officer, or emergency medical technician if:
               (1)  while on duty, the firefighter, peace officer, or
  emergency medical technician:
                     (A)  was engaged in a situation that involved
  [nonroutine] stressful or strenuous physical activity involving
  fire suppression, rescue, hazardous material response, emergency
  medical services, or other emergency response activity; or
                     (B)  participated in a training exercise that
  involved [nonroutine] stressful or strenuous physical activity;
  and
               (2)  the acute myocardial infarction or stroke occurred
  not later than 24 hours after the end of a shift in which [while] the
  firefighter, peace officer, or emergency medical technician was
  engaging in the activity described under Subdivision (1).
         (b)  For purposes of this section, "[nonroutine] stressful
  or strenuous physical activity" does not include clerical,
  administrative, or nonmanual activities.
         SECTION 5.  Section 177A.002, Local Government Code, as
  added by this Act, applies only to a collective bargaining, meet and
  confer, or other similar agreement entered into on or after the
  effective date of this Act.
         SECTION 6.  Section 408.161, Labor Code, as amended by this
  Act, applies only to a claim for lifetime income benefits based on a
  compensable injury that occurs on or after the effective date of
  this Act. A claim based on a compensable injury that occurs before
  the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect on
  the date the compensable injury occurred, and the former law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 7.  Sections 607.052(b) and 607.056, Government
  Code, as amended by this Act, apply only to a claim for benefits or
  compensation brought on or after the effective date of this Act. A
  claim for benefits or compensation brought before the effective
  date of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the date the
  claim was made, and the former law is continued in effect for that
  purpose.
         SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2023.