HB1090 Paving the Way
On January 25, 2019, Texas State Representative Cecil Bell filed HB1090 to amend the state’s government code definition of ‘first responder’. The current government code defines as first responder as ‘a public safety employee or volunteer whose duties include responding rapidly to an emergency’. This legislation is very important for public safety telecommunicators in the state of Texas and may set a precedent for other states to follow.
For those in the 9-1-1 industry, this certainly sounds like the definition of a public safety telecommunicator. Currently, the government code includes peace officers, fire protection personnel, volunteer firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel as first responders.
The house bill adds ‘an emergency response operator or emergency services dispatcher who provides communication support services for an agency by responding to requests for assistance in emergencies’ to its definition of first responder.
HB1090 has been passed in both Texas legislative houses. It is on its way to the Governor’s Office where it will be signed into law. The progress of this legislation can be followed online at Texas Legislature Online.
The Texas legislation mirrors similar efforts at the national level to change the perception of the contributions of telecommunicators to public safety and the communities they serve.
On March 7th, United States Representative Norma Torres of California introduced HR1629, otherwise known as the 911SAVES Act. The resolution is to require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to review and revisions to the Standard Occupational Classification System. The expected outcome is to classify public safety telecommunicators as a protective service occupation. This federal-level legislation can be followed online at GovTrack.