Report Title:

Language Access; Translation Bank; Appropriation



Establishes the language access translation bank.  Requires the office of language access to maintain a group of translators that shall be available to departments.  Appropriates funds.



H.B. NO.


















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that language barriers have imposed an increasing burden on government services in recent years.  Foreign-born individuals of Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Micronesian, and other ethnic descents do not always arrive in Hawaii with the language skills needed to navigate unfamiliar and sometimes difficult governmental organizations.  This barrier decreases government efficiency for clients receiving services and increases manpower hours needed for agencies to serve clients.

     The legislature finds that the availability of translators in government agencies would facilitate the delivery of services and would increase the efficiency of state departments including the judiciary, human services, health, labor, and others.

     SECTION 2.  Chapter 371, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

     "§371-     Language access translation bank.  (a)  The office of language access shall establish a language access translation bank that shall consist of a group of translators and interpreters and shall be designed to meet the translation and interpretation needs of residents of the State.

(b)  The executive director of the office of language access shall:

     (1)  Develop qualifications for translators and interpreters with input from stakeholders, professional translators, and interpreters, based on recognized guidelines on professional translators and interpreters;

     (2)  Hire and train, if necessary, translators and interpreters that meet these qualifications and the needs of departments that may request their services;

     (3)  Collect data on usage of translation services and requests for services that may be useful in prioritizing translation and interpretation programming; and

     (4)  Collaborate with agencies and departments that may provide services for people for whom language is a barrier."

     SECTION 3.  Section 371-36, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "[[]§371-36[]]  Executive director of the office of language access; duties.  There is established within the department of labor and industrial relations, for administrative purposes only, an office of language access.  The head of the office shall be known as the executive director of the office of language access, hereinafter referred to as executive director.  The executive director shall be appointed by the governor without regard to chapter 76.  The executive director shall:

     (1)  Provide oversight, central coordination, and technical assistance to state agencies in their implementation of language access requirements under this part or under any other law, regulation, or guidance;

     (2)  Provide technical assistance to covered entities in their implementation of this part;

     (3)  Review and monitor each state agency's language access plan for compliance with this part;

     (4)  Where reasonable access is not provided, endeavor to eliminate the barrier using informal methods such as conference, conciliation, mediation, or persuasion.  Where the language access barrier cannot be eliminated by informal methods, the executive director shall submit a written report with the executive director's opinion and recommendation to the state agency or the covered entity.  The executive director may request the state agency or the covered entity to notify the executive director, within a specified time, of any action taken on the executive director's recommendation;

     (5)  Consult with language access coordinators, the language access advisory council, and department directors or their equivalent;

     (6)  Subject to section 371-33, create, distribute to the State, and make available to covered entities multilingual signage in the more frequently encountered languages in the State, and other languages as needed, informing individuals of their right to free oral language services and inviting them to identify themselves as persons needing services; [and]

     (7)  Adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to address the language needs of limited English proficient persons[.]; and

     (8)  Maintain a group of translators in the five ethnic languages that are determined to be the most underserved by departments.  The five ethnic languages shall be selected by reviewing each department's language access plan.  The translators shall be available to each department upon request."

     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 2009-2010 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2010-2011 to establish and operate the language access translation bank.

     The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of labor and industrial relations for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 5.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.