STAND. COM. REP. NO. 1750

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: H.C.R. No. 169

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-First State Legislature

Regular Session of 2021

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts, to which was referred H.C.R. No. 169 entitled:

 

"HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION REQUESTING THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS TO CONVENE A WORKING GROUP TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT SERVICES FOR IMMIGRANTS AND INCREASE IMMIGRANT OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE CIVIC AND ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COMMUNITY,"

 

begs leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to urge the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to convene a working group to improve access to government services for immigrants and increase immigrant opportunities to make civic and economic contributions to the community.

 

Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; Office of Community Services; Office of Language Access; Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Interagency Council for Immigrant and Refugee Services, Inc.; Ethnic Education Hawaii; Goodwill Hawaii; Hawaii Foodbank, Inc.; Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights; and three individuals.

 

Your Committee finds that Hawaii's history, with its sugar and pineapple industries being reliant on immigrant laborers from Asia and the Pacific region, is inextricably interlinked with immigration. The immigrant population continues to be crucial for the State, and according to an April 2018 report titled "Hawaii's Working Population: An Analysis by Industry 2012-2016" issued by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT), twenty-two percent of Hawaii's working population during the 2012-2016 period were born in foreign countries. According to an April 2016 DBEDT report titled "Non-English Speaking Population in Hawaii", during the 2002-2014 period, 25.3 percent of people in the State aged five years and older spoke a language other than English at home, of which 18.9 percent spoke English "not well" or "not at all." The report found that due to lack of proficiency in English, earnings of non-English speakers were ten to thirty-four percent lower than that of English-only speakers, despite having the same education, experience, race, gender, and similar occupations. The report also noted that language deficiency impedes efficient delivery of public services, and thus, in 2000, a federal executive order was signed to require federal agencies to identify the need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP) and develop and implement a system to provide meaningful access to language assistance services.

 

Your Committee finds that in 1985, the Legislature established the Office of Community Services (OCS) as an agency administratively-attached to the Department of Labor and Industrial Services to assist disadvantaged persons, refugees, and immigrants to overcome workforce barriers to economic self-sufficiency through an array of community-based programs and services. Your Committee notes OCS's testimony regarding its various programs, its progress, and constraints due to budgetary limitations. Your Committee also notes concerns raised in testimony regarding the State's inability to properly serve the LEP communities during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, and repeated citations by the U.S. Department of Justice and federal courts regarding the State's failure to ensure meaningful access to services by LEP persons. Your Committee believes this measure will assist OCS in obtaining the necessary information and input to enable the State's immigrant community better access to government services.

 

As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts that is attached to this report, your Committee concurs with the intent and purpose of H.C.R. No. 169, and recommends its adoption.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts,

 

 

 

________________________________

BRIAN T. TANIGUCHI, Chair