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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
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
(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
(vi) Indicate limited English proficiency status in data and
(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
(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
(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.