Report Title:

Commission on Language Access

 

Description:

Appropriates $60,000 for FY 2002-2003 to create a commission on language access. Appropriates unspecified amounts for the DOH and DHS to develop and implement systems by which limited English speaking persons can access services, activities, and programs within each department.

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2568

TWENTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2002

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to language access for persons with limited english proficiency.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by any entity that receives federal financial assistance. Under this law, states and other entities that receive federal financial assistance are required to provide meaningful access to services, programs, and activities for persons with limited English proficiency. Meaningful access includes, at a minimum, timely access to trained and competent interpreters, translation of application forms, notices, and letters in a language understood by a person with limited English proficiency, and notice to persons with limited English proficiency in a language they can understand of the right to free language assistance.

The legislature finds that many departments receive federal funds that are applied to an array of services. In order to assure that persons with limited English proficiency have full access to these programs and to assure compliance with the law, the legislature further finds that some departments will require additional funding to develop and implement systems by which persons with limited English proficiency can meaningfully access services consistent with the missions of those departments.

The legislature also finds that there is a need to establish a commission on language access to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to improve access to services, programs, and activities by eligible persons with limited English proficiency. The need for such a commission is underscored by the fact that persons with limited English proficiency are often excluded from state services, experience delays or denials of service, or receive care and services based on inaccurate or incomplete information. Frequently, persons with limited English proficiency are compelled to rely on their minor children to interpret or translate for them as they access and receive services from departments. Other persons with limited English proficiency are required to call upon neighbors or even strangers they encounter at the provider's office to act as interpreters or translators. These practices have severe drawbacks and are in violation of the law. The commission will be able to develop a language and policy plan to enhance statewide access to services for persons with limited English proficiency.

The purpose of this Act is to provide funding to the departments of health and human services to enhance their ability to provide services, programs, and activities to persons with limited English proficiency, and to establish a commission on language access to develop a statewide plan to enhance access to services for persons with limited English proficiency.

SECTION 2. (a) There is established the Hawaii commission on language access within the department of the attorney general for administrative purposes. The commission shall consist of the following thirteen members to be appointed by the governor in accordance with section 26-34:

(1) Three members who shall represent state or county departments;

(2) Two members who are bilingual, who are either interpreters or bilingual case management caseworkers, or who are or have been employed by a state-funded immigrant service agency or program;

(3) One member who shall represent an advocacy organization which provides services to persons with limited English proficiency;

(4) One member who shall represent the general public who has an interest in provision of services to persons with limited English proficiency;

(5) One member who shall represent a unit within the University of Hawaii providing professional training in interpretation and translation;

(6) One member who shall represent a Hawaiian language immersion advocacy organization;

(7) One member who shall represent a professional association of interpreters and translators;

(8) One member who shall represent a bilingual referral service;

(9) The director of the Hawaii civil rights commission or designated representative; and

(10) The attorney general or a designated representative.

(b) Members shall be appointed without the necessity of the advice and consent of the senate and shall serve at the pleasure of the attorney general.

(c) Members shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for expenses, including travel expenses, necessary for the performance of their duties.

(d) The commission shall develop a statewide plan to enhance access to services for persons with limited English proficiency. The commission shall submit its recommendations to the legislature not later than December 1, 2003.

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $60,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2002-2003, to fund a part-time administrator of the commission on language access and part-time office support personnel, all of which positions shall be exempt from chapter 76, and to fund necessary travel expenses of members of the commission.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of the attorney general.

SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $      , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2002-2003, for the department of health to develop and implement systems by which persons with limited English proficiency can meaningfully access services consistent with the mission of the department; provided that the department of health shall submit to the legislature not later than December 1, 2002 a preliminary report detailing the policies adopted by the department on access to services by persons with limited English proficiency and describing the implementation plans for the policies. A final report shall be submitted to the legislature not later than December 1, 2003 describing the department's compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to access to services by persons with limited English proficiency.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this section.

SECTION 5. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $      , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2002-2003, for the department of human services to develop and implement systems by which persons with limited English proficiency can meaningfully access services consistent with the mission of the department; provided that the department of human services shall submit to the legislature not later than December 1, 2002 a preliminary report detailing the policies adopted by the department on access to services by persons with limited English proficiency and describing the implementation plans for the policies. A final report shall be submitted to the legislature not later than December 1, 2003 describing the department's compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to access to services by persons with limited English proficiency.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of human services for the purposes of this section.

SECTION 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

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