HB 1709 Language Access in Public Schools
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.
Update: Signed into law by the Governor on April 4, 2014. $35,000 was allocated to this bill in the supplemental budget.
Read the OEO Legislative Report submitted in January 2015.
HB 2617 Procurement of Spoken Language Interpreters
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!
Update: Died in the 2014 Senate.
HB 1815 - Language Access in Public Schools
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.
Update: Though this bill died in the 2014 House, part of it ended up in HB 1709..
HB 1542 Language Access in WA State Courts
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%.
Update: died in the 2014 Senate.
Washington State Labor Council 2014 Legislative Report
In 2013, two Democrats traded control of the Washington State Senate to Republicans in exchange for better job titles and bigger offices. In 2014, the real consequences of those partisan political machinations are clearer than ever. Progressive policies and job-creating infrastructure investments supported by both Gov. Jay Inslee and the Democratic-controlled House were blocked by Senate Republicans. They killed dozens of House-approved labor-backed bills on everything from wage theft to electricians’ certification, in most cases without a public hearing. Instead, Senate Republicans spent the 2014 session launching aggressive attacks on labor standards and public employees. Pushed by national right- wing groups, these bills had little chance of passage in blue Washington. It was all about election-year posturing. As you’ll read throughout this WSLC Legislative Report, voters in Washington state didn’t ask for it, but in 2014 they got another bitter taste of Washington, D.C.-style political gridlock.
Desperately needed procurement reform in taxpayers funded interpreter services for L&I and other state agencies died in the Senate despite ample proof that it would save millions of dollars to WA State taxpayers and businesses.
Pressured by the US Department of Justice's investigation for non-compliance with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a bill that would have aligned WA State laws with federal regulations died in the Senate. The expansion of the incredibly successful AOC interpreter expense reimbursement program awaits the return to sanity by the legislative body. Meanwhile WA State courts, which are funded by counties and cities, continue to have a very hard time providing equal justice for all.
You can read more about our legislature's dysfunction in the 2014 Legislative Report and Voting Record released by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.