HB 4891: Equal Language Access to State Services Act

MIRC Legislative Update

September 22, 2015

House Bill 4891

Primary Sponsor: Stephanie Chang (Democrat, 6th House District, Ecorse, River Rouge and part of Detroit)

Other Sponsors (15): Harvey Santana, Kristy Pagan, Rose Mary Robinson, Leslie Love, Sarah Roberts, Christine Greig, Henry Yanez, Jeff Irwin, Vanessa Guerra, Fred Durhal III, Julie  Plawecki, Adam Zemke, Jon Hoadley, Erika Geiss, Sam Singh
Bill Status: 9/22/2015 introduced in the Michigan House; referred to the Committee on Government Operations
Bill Summary: This bill would facilitate equal access to state departmental and agency services by individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). It would include providing sufficient in-person and other oral interpretation, and the translation of vital documents in areas where LEP populations exceed 3% of the total population or 1,000 or more people are served by a particular office. It would additionally require state departments and agencies to develop and submit a language access report every two years, to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Background and Analysis:
This bill, modeled after various other state language access laws and tracking federal language access requirements and guidelines, would help to ensure that equal language access is provided by all state entities providing direct services to the public. It would supplement and complement without replacing or superseding federal language access laws.
The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center was pleased to have provided technical assistance in the development of HB 4891. MIRC's managing attorney, Susan Reed was quoted in Representative Chang's press release stating that "[p]eople with limited English proficiency and their families contribute culturally, socially and economically to our state, and this legislation will support their full integration into our communities as well as their civil rights."