HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.C.R. NO.

121

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

requesting the governor to convene A WORKING GROUP TO DEVELOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR effective communications with limited english proficient persons and persons with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies and natural disasters.

 

 

 


WHEREAS, the 2019 State of Hawaii Data Book reported that the portion of Hawaii's total population that is five years old and above is 1,331,641; and

 

WHEREAS, roughly one in four people in the State, or 348,139, speak a language other than English at home; and

 

WHEREAS, the 2019 State of Hawaii Data Book also reported that 161,055, or approximately one in nine of Hawaii's residents indicated that they speak English "less than very well", classifying them as limited English proficient persons; and

 

WHEREAS, Hawaii has one of the highest proportions of non‑English speakers in the United States; and

 

WHEREAS, language access is a civil right that derives from Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides that "[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance"; and

 

WHEREAS, in Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974), the United States Supreme Court held that failure to ensure meaningful access to services for limited English proficient persons is a form of national origin discrimination prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order 13166 issued by President Clinton on August 11, 2000, directed all federal agencies and entities that received federal funding to examine their services and to develop and implement systems to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient persons; and

 

WHEREAS, the Office of Language Access, established in 2006, reaffirmed Hawaii's commitment to civil rights and inclusive access to services regardless of national origin; and

 

WHEREAS, the State has been cited repeatedly by the federal court, federal offices of civil rights, including the Department of Justice, and Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, for its failure to provide language accessible services for limited English proficient persons; and

 

WHEREAS, during the pandemic, Hawaii's limited English proficient community has expressed concern and dismay regarding non-existent or limited access to essential state services, including health related information and unemployment benefits, in a language they understand; and

 

WHEREAS, the 2018 Disability Status Report by Cornell University reported that 51,300 Hawaii residents are hearing disabled and 25,100 Hawaii residents are blind or experience serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses; and

 

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 bars entities receiving federal funds from discriminating against individuals with any disability in the provision of programs and requires that all electronic and information technology resources developed with federal funds be completely accessible; and

 

WHEREAS, Title II of the American with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination by state or local governments and requires that state and local governments ensure that their communications, including emergency communications, are fully accessible to people with disabilities; and

 

WHEREAS, bridging the language divide experienced by the limited English proficient, deaf, blind, and disabled communities is essential to ensuring equitable access to services, programs, and activities for all Hawaii residents; and

 

WHEREAS, effective and appropriate communication that reaches these communities during natural disasters or emergency events is critical to protecting lives, families, and the State's diverse communities; and

 

WHEREAS, providing accessible communication and services in emergency and disaster management services, health care services, public benefit services, unemployment benefits, and other services critical to ensuring the safety, health, and welfare of limited English proficient and disabled persons in natural disasters and emergency events is required by federal and state laws; and

 

WHEREAS, convening a working group of stakeholders is a significant step toward sharing information and solutions, developing and leveraging resources, and formulating action steps to ensure meaningful access for limited English proficient, deaf, blind, and disabled persons; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the Senate concurring, that the Governor is requested to convene a working group to develop recommendations for effective communications with limited English proficient persons and persons with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies and natural disasters; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to develop a plan to ensure that communication services, including translation, are accurate, culturally appropriate, meaningful, and timely; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to:

 

(1) Assess the current status of communication access for persons with a disability and limited English proficient persons during natural disasters and emergencies;

(2) Assess the current communication needs and challenges across government entities during natural disasters and emergencies;

 

(3) Identify information technology resources and other resources and costs; and

 

(4) Identify and propose legislative solutions and submit recommendations to the Legislature; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to comprise the following members:

 

(1) One individual appointed by the Governor who shall serve as the co-chair;

 

(2) Two individuals appointed by the Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights, one of which shall serve as co‑chair;

 

(3) The Attorney General or their designee;

 

(4) The Director of Health or their designee;

 

(5) The Director of Human Services or their designee;

 

(6) The Director of Labor and Industrial Relations or their designee;

 

(7) The Administrator of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency or their designee;

 

(8) The Chief Information Officer of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services or their designee;

 

(9) The Executive Director of the Office of Language Access or their designee;

 

(10) The Director of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts or their designee;

(11) The Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board or their designee;

 

(12) The Executive Administrator of the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities or their designee;

 

(13) The Executive Director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission or their designee;

 

(14) The Civil Defense Administrator of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency or their designee;

 

(15) The Administrator of the Kauai Emergency Management Agency or their designee;

 

(16) The Administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency or their designee;

 

(17) The Director of the City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management or their designee;

 

(18) One representative from the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities, to be appointed by the Council;

 

(19) One representative from the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant and Refugee Services, to be appointed by the Council;

 

(20) One person with a disability appointed by the Disability and Communication Access Board;

 

(21) One person with a developmental disability appointed by the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities; and

 

(22) One person with limited English proficiency appointed by the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant and Refugee Services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the language and disability access working group is requested to submit to the Legislature a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, no later than October 31, 2021; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Attorney General, Director of Health, Director of Human Services, Director of Labor and Industrial Relations, Administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Chief Information Officer of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, Executive Director of the Office of Language Access, Director of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts, Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board, Executive Administrator of the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Executive Director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Civil Defense Administrator of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, Administrator of the Kauai Emergency Management Agency, Administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, Director of the City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, Head of the Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and President of the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Report Title:

Working Group; Effective Communications; Emergencies and Natural Disasters