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.




     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


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




     (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




     (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

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




     (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.