HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.C.R. NO.

113

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

S.D. 1

 

 

 

 

HOUSE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

CONVENING THE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION WORKING GROUP.

 

 


WHEREAS, as one of the most culturally diverse states in the nation, Hawaii has one of the highest proportions of non-English speakers in the United States; and

 

WHEREAS, about one in four Hawaii residents speak a language other than English at home, and about one in eight Hawaii residents speak English "less than very well", giving Hawaii one of the highest rates of persons with limited English proficiency, per capita, in the United States; and

 

WHEREAS, a significant percentage of visitors to Hawaii have a primary language other than English; and

 

WHEREAS, residents and visitors who lack proficiency in English are at great risk in emergency situations in which they are unable to understand written or verbal warnings or notifications, including warnings or notifications about dangerous conditions, impending severe weather, and appropriate emergency responses; and

 

WHEREAS, preparing for and responding to emergencies is especially important, but sometimes very difficult, for residents and visitors of limited English proficiency; and

 

WHEREAS, residents of and visitors to Hawaii with limited English proficiency have expressed concerns regarding access to and comprehension of emergency notifications; and

 

WHEREAS, bridging the communication gap is essential to ensuring equal access for all community members, especially in emergency situations; and

 

WHEREAS, providing language access in disaster and emergency management is critical to ensure that all of the State's residents and visitors, regardless of English proficiency, can access essential resources like shelters, medicine, social services, and other disaster relief; and

 

WHEREAS, effective and appropriate communication that reaches all who may be impacted by a disaster or emergency event is critical to protecting lives, families, and communities; and

 

WHEREAS, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency coordinates emergency notifications and response to disasters; and

 

WHEREAS, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency's planning should include a means for residents and visitors of limited English proficiency to receive important emergency notifications; and

 

WHEREAS, the convening of a working group of stakeholders is a significant step toward sharing information, developing ideas, and taking action to ensure meaningful access for Hawaii's residents and visitors with limited English proficiency through the provision of emergency notifications in multiple languages; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2019, the Senate concurring, that a multiple languages emergency notification working group be convened to develop a plan to provide emergency notifications in multiple languages; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the multiple languages emergency notification working group is requested to develop a plan to provide emergency notifications in multiple languages for people with limited English proficiency, including:

 

(1) Determining the scope of implementing emergency notifications in multiple languages, including the specific languages needed and the method or methods by which the notifications should be provided;

 

(2) Developing a process to ensure that emergency notifications in languages other than English are accurate, culturally appropriate, meaningful, and timely; and

 

(3) Identifying any necessary resources to effectuate the purpose of this measure, such as the cost of services, necessary information technology software, or foreign language translators who can provide timely translation services during disasters; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the multiple languages emergency notification working group is requested to comprise the following members or their designees:

 

(1) Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, or the Director's designee, who shall serve as chair of the working group;

 

(2) Director of Health;

 

(3) Director of Human Services;

 

(4) Chairperson of the Board of Education;

 

(5) Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism;

 

(6) Chair of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents;

 

(7) Executive Director of the Office of Language Access;

 

(8) Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board;

 

(9) Program Director of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts;

 

(10) Emergency Management Officer of the Maui Civil Defense Agency;

 

(11) Deputy Director of the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Agency;

 

(12) Director of Emergency Management of the City and County of Honolulu;

 

(13) Administrator of the Kauai Civil Defense Agency;

 

(14) A representative from the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities;

 

(15) A representative from the Inter-Agency Council for Refugee and Immigrant Services;

 

(16) Individuals appointed by the Disability and Communication Access Board and Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities who are deaf and whose primary language is American Sign Language; and

 

(17) Individuals appointed by the Inter-Agency Council for Refugee and Immigrant Services to represent the immigrant community; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the chair of the working group invite a representative from the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association to serve as members; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the multiple languages emergency notification working group is requested to submit to the Legislature a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2020; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency; Director of Health; Director of Human Services; Chairperson of the Board of Education; Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; Chair of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents; Executive Director of the Office of Language Access; Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board; Program Director of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts; Emergency Management Officer of the Maui Civil Defense Agency; Deputy Director of the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Agency; Director of Emergency Management of the City and County of Honolulu; Administrator of the Kauai Civil Defense Agency; President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association; Chairperson of the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities; and Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Council for Refugee and Immigrant Services.

Report Title:

Convening the Multiple Languages Emergency Notification Working Group