NEW JERSEY – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee this week advanced legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz which would require state forms and notices be translated into the fifteen most used languages.
“Government needs to be responsive to the needs of all residents. New Jersey is the 4th most diverse state in the nation and what that means is that our state needs to be prepared to provide services outside of English,” said Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation aims to empower our residents and remove the language barrier faced by so many communities around the state by ensuring all of our state agencies are prepared to assist our residents regardless of what language they speak. When people are in need, and especially in crisis, they should be able to connect to the resources available to them.”
The bill, S-2459, would require state agencies to translate forms, privacy protections, and notices of rights in the top five most used languages by the end of the first year, then add an additional five languages by the end of the second year and add the five remaining languages in the third year after implementation.
The bill would also give departments the option to provide interpretation services be provided where appropriate, which would be widely advertised to ensure residents are aware such assistance exists.
New Jersey would join California, D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New York State and 40 other jurisdictions that have established language access laws.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 8-4.