Bill to help injured first responders headed to Texas Governor’s desk

By: Presley Fowler

AUSTIN, TX (KCBD) – A bill authored by District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows will now head to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.

House Bill 2082 aims to help injured law enforcement officers as they attempt to file for worker’s compensation.

We’ve been following this bill as it has made its way through committee and ultimately, passed through both the Texas House and Senate late Wednesday night.

Representative Dustin Burrows posted a message on Facebook Thursday night, saying he is proud to be an advocate for our state’s first responders.

House Bill 2082 creates a “law enforcement liaison” within the Texas Department of Worker’s Compensation Agency to help injured first responders as they navigate the sometimes complicated process to recovery.

“If an officer is having trouble finding a doctor, having trouble with worker’s comp paying for their medical bills, having trouble with appointments – for instance, a lot of this is therapy, so that they can get back to work. This liaison will help tremendously,” said Mary Duncan, an advocate for peace officers in Lubbock and President of the Crime Victim Coalition.

Duncan is also the wife of an officer who was injured in the late ’70s.

Through this process, she and other area injured officers and family members met many times with Representative Burrows to discuss the issues, also working with Representative John Frullo and Senator Charles Perry.

Mary and her husband were among those who traveled to Austin in April to testify for the committee.

This group included medically retired LPD officer Jacob Flores, along with Jessica Scherlen, the wife of Amarillo Police Officer Justin Scherlen, who ended up passing away from complications from his injury while serving as an officer.

“We couldn’t believe that we were able to stand up there and tell our stories…it was very emotional but yet it was so very well-received. When we were all up there, one thing we did discuss is that they were all paying attention and that they were in disbelief of what these officers had gone through,” Duncan said.

As this bill awaits a signature from Governor Abbott. Mary says they are optimistic for the future of this legislation taking effect.

“We just hope that this helps the next first responder that gets injured in the line of duty,” Duncan said.

Duncan says they are awaiting the date of a bill signing ceremony for HB 2082.

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