Republican Representative of Texas House District 83, Dustin Burrows, has filed a bill focused on supporting Texas first responders who must quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.
House Bill 2037 states that city and county departments would be required to place a firefighter, police officer, or EMT on administrative leave with pay if they needed to quarantine due to on-duty exposure to COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.
Partial text of House Bill 2037:
“A political subdivision shall provide to a fire fighter, peace officer, or emergency medical technician on quarantine leave: all employment benefits and compensation, including leave accrual, pension benefits, and health benefit plan benefits; and costs related to the quarantine, including lodging, medical, and transportation costs. A political subdivision may not reduce a fire fighter’s, peace officer’s, or emergency medical technician’s sick leave balance, vacation leave balance, holiday leave balance, or other paid leave balance in connection with quarantine leave required by Subsection (b).”
A press release from Dustin Burrows dated Feb. 23 states, “While most city and county governments have covered costs and placed First Responders on administrative leave with pay when quarantined, some have not and refuse to, resulting in employees not reporting high risk exposures, since they may end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on quarantine expenses.”
House Bill 2037 does state, however, that the first responder must have contracted the illness while in the line of duty, but it remains unclear how that would be definitively proven.
Lynn County Sheriff Abraham Vega passed away with COVID-19 back in July 2020 and he was initially denied a Line of Duty Death designation by Lynn County Judge Mike Braddock because it was said that it could not be proven that Vega contracted COVID-19 while on the job.
The Line of Duty Death designation is important because it would entitle Vega’s family to certain benefits. The standard of how to prove when a first responder has contracted a contagious virus on the job could be vital in the successful implementation of House Bill 2037 as well.
If passed, House Bill 2037 would take effect September 1, 2021.
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