The 2014 Washington State Legislature convened January 13, 2014 for a 60 day session and is considering many bills affecting almost all interpreters in Washington State. Visit http://leg.wa.gov for more information on the current status of each bill below.
HB 1709 - Language Access in Public Schools: Only interpreter bill to survive the 2014 legislative session
Status: Signed into law by the Governor. On April 4, 2014, $35,000 was allocated to this bill in the supplemental budget.
The Office of the Education Ombudsman must conduct a feasibility study for development of a state foreign language education interpreter training program designed to create a pool of trained interpreters for public schools, including volunteer interpreters. OEO must submit the study to the legislative education committees by February 1, 2015.
January 2015: The Office of the Education Ombudsman released the much awaited "Feasibility Study for Foreign Lanugage Educational Interpreter Training and Certification" (see attachment below).
HB 1709 OEO One-pager.pdf
BELOW ARE THE BILLS INTRODUCED DURING THE 2013-14 LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT DID NOT SUCCEED
OUR BILL: HB 2617 - Procurement of Spoken Language Interpreters
Status: Died in the 2014 Senate.
2014 HB 2617 One-pager.pdf
This bill gives spoken language interpreters a voice in their certification and when providing services to any state agency or L&I provider, while saving the state money through streamlining procurement.
Right now the State can continue flooding the market in certain languages by continually testing new interpreters. This means there's not enough work for any of us so it continues to get harder and harder for professional interpreters to make a living. Additionally, when we go to a doctor to see a Medicaid patient we get paid $32 an hour, but when we go to the same doctor to interpret for an L&I patient we only get paid $25 an hour because a for-profit language agency takes over 47% of our pay!
What does HB 2617 do?
1.) Establishes an Interpreter Advisory Group for the DSHS medical and social service exams which will be composed of interpreters and other stakeholders. This is a real way we can stop the flooded market for our services, and have a say over our profession. This Advisory Group will have the ability to improve quality by having oversight of the certification process and the ability to establish professional standards such as continuing education requirements. We'll make sure that union members have low cost ways of meeting any requirements. Having documented professional training means our services will have more value!
2.) Gives us union rights at all state-funded appointments. We will have the right to negotiate for union scale pay and working conditions at all state-funded appointments, including L&I medical appointments.
3.) Gets the middlemen off our back by streamlining scheduling and making it easier to get appointments! The state is already considering alternatives to the current way they schedule and pay interpreters at L&I appointments and other state agencies. We know that we have to insert ourselves in this process to partner with the state to find a solution that creates efficiencies, cost savings and works for interpreters!
HB 1815 - Language Access in Public Schools
Status: died in the 2014 House.
Requires the development of a model language access policy that includes the use of adult trained interpreters (not the student) and adoption by all school districts of this policy as a minimum.
Though this bill died in its house of origin, part of this bill may end up in HB 1709.
HB 1542 - Language Access in WA State Courts
Status: died in the 2014 Senate.
Requires courts to provide interpreter services at public expense in all types of legal proceedings, civil and criminal. Requires the state to pay 50% percent of the cost of interpreters appointed in legal proceedings. Counties and municipalities cover the other 50%.