SENATE BILL No. 45

 

 

January 22, 2019, Introduced by Senators CHANG, HOLLIER, MOSS, GEISS, ANANICH, ALEXANDER, MCMORROW, IRWIN, SCHMIDT, BAYER and BULLOCK and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

 

 

 

     A bill to facilitate access to state services by individuals

 

with limited English proficiency; to provide for the powers and

 

duties of certain state governmental officers and entities; to

 

provide for biennial reports concerning equal language access; and

 

to establish a process for submitting complaints and obtaining

 

remedies for lack of equal language access.

 

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

 

     Sec. 1. (1) This act shall be known and may be cited as the

 

"equal language access to state services act".

 

     (2) As used in this act:

 

     (a) "Covered entity" means a state department, agency, or

 

entity.

 

     (b) "Equal language access" means the ability to receive

 

information and to participate in and benefit from public services


offered by a covered entity at a level equal to English-proficient

 

individuals.

 

     (c) "Limited English proficiency" means the inability to

 

understand or to effectively express oneself in spoken or written

 

English because the individual's primary language is not English

 

and the individual has not developed fluency in the English

 

language.

 

     (d) "Oral language services" includes various methods to

 

provide verbal information and interpretation, such as staff

 

interpreters, bilingual staff, telephone interpreter programs,

 

televideo interpretation services, and private interpreter

 

programs.

 

     (e) "Vital documents" means printed or electronic documents

 

that provide important information necessary to access or

 

participate in services, programs, and activities of a covered

 

entity, including, but not limited to, applications, outreach

 

materials, and written notices of rights, denials, losses, or

 

decreases in benefits or services.

 

     Sec. 2. Each covered entity shall take reasonable steps to

 

provide equal language access to public services for individuals

 

with limited English proficiency. Reasonable steps include all of

 

the following:

 

     (a) Providing oral language services for individuals with

 

limited English proficiency through face-to-face, in-house oral

 

language services. Oral language services provided under this act

 

must be provided by individuals and through means with demonstrated

 

competency in the appropriate language. Oral language services


provided by a relative, friend, or bystander do not meet the

 

requirements of this act and do not substitute for the duty to

 

provide access to oral language services. However, the person with

 

limited English proficiency may choose to use an interpreter of his

 

or her choice, at his or her expense, in place of or as a

 

supplement to the oral language services the covered entity is

 

required to provide.

 

     (b) Having available sufficient, appropriate oral language

 

services to provide equal language access, based on reliable data

 

documenting the proportion of individuals with limited English

 

proficiency eligible to be served or encountered by the agency and

 

the frequency of encounters within the geographic area served, and

 

taking into consideration the nature and importance of the program,

 

activity, or service provided.

 

     (c) Translating vital documents ordinarily provided to the

 

public into any language spoken by a population with limited

 

English proficiency that constitutes at least 3% of the overall

 

population within the geographic area or by 1,000 or more people

 

served by a local office of a state entity, based on any reliable

 

data, and providing those translated documents to local offices as

 

necessary.

 

     (d) Any additional means necessary to achieve equal language

 

access to public services.

 

     Sec. 3. A covered entity shall not charge individuals with

 

limited English proficiency for the use of oral language services

 

or translation.

 

     Sec. 4. Every 2 years, each covered entity shall develop and


submit to the department of civil rights a report with information

 

and plans concerning implementation of equal language access to its

 

services. The report must include all of the following:

 

     (a) The number of bilingual staff who are available to

 

facilitate equal language access and the languages they facilitate.

 

     (b) The number of bilingual staff determined to be needed for

 

each language to provide equal language access for the population

 

with limited English proficiency it serves.

 

     (c) A plan to address any insufficiency in its ability to

 

provide equal language access.

 

     (d) A list of vital documents that it has had translated and

 

the language of the translation.

 

     (e) Designation of an employee as its language access

 

coordinator.

 

     (f) A staff training plan related to equal language access.

 

The staff training plan must include specific information regarding

 

implementation, including the specific types of language services

 

available and how the covered entity will do all of the following:

 

     (i) Obtain language services internally or from vendors.

 

     (ii) Respond to callers with limited English proficiency.

 

     (iii) Respond to written communications from persons with

 

limited English proficiency.

 

     (iv) Respond to persons with limited English proficiency who

 

have in-person contact with staff.

 

     (v) Ensure competency of interpreters and translation

 

services.

 

     (vi) Indicate limited English proficiency status in data and


information systems.

 

     (vii) Communicate information to the language access

 

coordinator about perceived changes in language services needed by

 

the population served and when that information will be

 

communicated.

 

     (g) A plan to increase public awareness of the services

 

provided to facilitate equal language access.

 

     Sec. 5. The department of civil rights shall do both of the

 

following:

 

     (a) Create a complaint form and a process for members of the

 

public to use to report and pursue a remedy for instances of

 

noncompliance with this act.

 

     (b) Designate a language access liaison to work with covered

 

entities to train staff, develop resources, and facilitate

 

compliance with this act.

 

     Enacting section 1. This act takes effect 90 days after the

 

date it is enacted into law.

 

     Enacting section 2. It is the intent of the legislature that

 

in implementing this act each covered entity be guided by federal

 

Executive Order No. 13166, 65 Fed. Reg. 50121 (Aug. 11, 2000), and

 

related implementing provisions of federal law, regulation, and

 

guidance in providing language access services, whether or not the

 

covered entity receives federal funding.