BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                                       Bill No:  AB  
          1930
          
                 SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION
                           Senator Dean Florez, Chair
                           2007-2008 Regular Session
                                 Staff Analysis



          AB 1930  Author:  Torrico
          As Amended:  May 6, 2008
          Hearing Date:  June 24, 2008
          Consultant:  Chris Lindstrom


                                     SUBJECT  

              Emergency services: populations with limited English  
                                  proficiency.

                                   DESCRIPTION
           
          AB 1930 requires the Office of Emergency Services (OES) to  
          take measures to help people with limited English  
          proficiency (LEP) prepare for emergencies and understand  
          information conveyed during emergencies, such as utilizing  
          bilingual persons in public contact positions, and  
          coordinating with organizations that represent the needs of  
          LEP persons in order to disseminate guidance to local and  
          regional governmental entities.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Provides that the Director of OES shall take into  
            consideration the multiple languages and the needs of  
            populations with LEP during emergency preparedness  
            planning, response, and recovery, including when  
            developing committee recommendations within the  
            Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)  
            structure, drafting guidance for local and regional  
            governmental entities, and reviewing emergency plans of  
            state, regional, and local governmental entities.

          2)Provides that the Director of OES shall incorporate local  
            ethnic community-based organizations and ethnic media  
            outlets in the communication plan so that they may be  
            alerted about information regarding emergency  




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            preparedness, response, and recovery.

          3)Specifies that the Director of OES shall utilize a  
            registry of qualified bilingual persons in public contact  
            positions, as defined, to assist with emergency  
            preparedness, response, and recovery.

          4)Provides that in using this registry, the Director of OES  
            shall also identify and address populations without  
            adequate qualified bilingual persons in public contact  
            positions.

          5)Provides that the Director of OES shall incorporate the  
            needs of populations with LEP in all emergency  
            preparedness, response, and recovery training and  
            exercises, including the exercises identified in the  
            statewide exercise strategy.

          6)Requires the Director of OES to provide local ethnic  
            community-based organizations and ethnic media outlets  
            with emergency information and to use a registry of  
            qualified bilingual persons in public contact positions,  
            as defined, to assist in emergencies.

          7)Requires the Director of OES to provide specified  
            information to local and regional governmental entities  
            to improve emergency preparedness, response, and recovery  
            for populations who have LEP.

          8)Makes legislative findings and declarations.

                                   EXISTING LAW
           
          Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act,  
          establishes OES and sets forth the duties and authority of  
          OES in overseeing and coordinating various emergency  
          response programs in the state.  OES is responsible for  
          assuring the state's readiness to respond to and recover  
          from the effects of emergencies that threaten lives,  
          property, and the environment.  OES assists local  
          governments and state agencies in developing their  
          emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation  
          plans, in accordance with the State Emergency Plan.

          Existing law provides that the Director of OES is  
          responsible for coordinating the emergency activities of  




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          all state agencies in connection with a state emergency.

          Existing law requires the Director of OES to appoint  
          representatives of the disabled community to serve on  
          Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) committees.  
           Requires the Director of OES to ensure that all SEMS  
          committee recommendations regarding preparedness, planning,  
          and procedures relating to emergencies include the needs of  
          people with disabilities.

          Existing law establishes the Emergency Council to act as an  
          advisory body to the Governor in times of emergency and on  
          matters of emergency preparedness.  Requires the Emergency  
          Council to publish a biennial report on the state of  
          emergency preparedness for catastrophic disasters.   
          Requires the report to include information from the after  
          action analysis of disasters in the preceding two years,  
          research directed by the Emergency Council, and surveys of  
          local and state emergency response agencies.  Requires the  
          report to also include a summary of strategic actions  
          necessary to address identified gaps in emergency  
          preparedness and an evaluation of previous efforts to close  
          gaps identified in previous reports, audits, and  
          independent analyses.

          Existing law requires OES to develop model guidelines for  
          local government agencies and community-based organizations  
          planning to develop a disaster registry program.  Specifies  
          that adoption of the model guidelines is voluntary.   
          Requires the guidelines to:

             1)   Specify the intent of the registry is to encourage  
               that those registered will receive a phone call or  
               visit from neighborhood disaster volunteers as soon as  
               possible after the disaster;

             2)   Establish a list of persons eligible for the  
               registry, including disabled persons (including  
               persons with developmental disabilities), the elderly,  
               those for whom English is not a first language,  
               persons who are unskilled or deficient in the English  
               language, long-term health care facilities,  
               residential community care facilities, and residential  
               care facilities for the elderly;

             3)   Contain a statement specifying that the party  




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               responsible for responding to those registered will  
               not be held liable for not responding; and,

             4)   Contain a plan for ensuring that hard data is  
               available if computers shut down.

          Existing law defines a "bilingual person" as a person who  
          is proficient in both the English language and the foreign  
          language to be used.  Defines "a sufficient number of  
          qualified bilingual persons in public contact positions" as  
          the number required to provide the same level of services  
          to non-English-speaking persons as is available to  
          English-speaking persons seeking services.
           
                                   BACKGROUND
           
          Purpose of the bill.  According to the author's office, in  
          California, nearly half of the population (40%) speaks a  
          language other than English at home and approximately  
          7,000,000 residents are limited English proficient (LEP).   
          Recent disasters have highlighted the vulnerabilities of  
          individuals with limited proficiency in English during an  
          emergency.  Within the disaster areas of Hurricane Katrina  
          and Hurricane Rita, there were at least 19,641 individuals  
          who spoke English with difficulty.  The traumatic effects  
          of these disasters were further exacerbated for these  
          individuals when the only evacuation orders they received  
          were in English.

          Closer to home, the recent wildfires in southern California  
          struck parts of cities with significant LEP populations,  
          potentially affecting 300,000 such individuals.  News  
          reports highlighted the frustration and confusion during  
          evacuations for individuals unable to understand English.   
          The Little Hoover Commission has also highlighted the need  
          for developing plans to ensure the needs of vulnerable  
          populations, including those with limited proficiency in  
          English, will be met during a catastrophe. 

          The author maintains, "with California's extraordinary  
          language diversity, the state has a responsibility to take  
          necessary steps to ensure emergency preparedness, response  
          and recovery to address the needs of LEP residents."

          Background.  Reports on recent disasters have highlighted  
          the vulnerabilities of individuals with limited English  




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          proficiency in emergencies.  A report presented to the  
          Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus highlighted the  
          lack of evacuation orders in any non-English language  
          during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, leaving individuals  
          with limited English proficiency vulnerable.  The Little  
          Hoover Commission highlighted the need for developing plans  
          to ensure that the needs of vulnerable populations,  
          including those with limited English proficiency, will be  
          met during a catastrophe.

          Overall, local governments are responsible to ensure that  
          their planning and preparedness activities address the  
          needs of vulnerable populations.  Given the magnitude of  
          such an effort and recognizing the state's role in assuring  
          the state's readiness to respond to and recover from  
          disasters, OES has partnered with state agencies to provide  
          assistance and resources to local governments and community  
          based organizations to develop plans to address the needs  
          of vulnerable populations.  For example, the California  
          Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA), departments and  
          OES are developing plans for the evacuation and sheltering  
          of vulnerable populations and the Community Care Licensing  
          Division of the California Department of Social Services  
          (CDSS) ensures that all organizations under their  
          regulation have emergency response and evacuation plans in  
          place.  The state, however, does not have specific  
          emergency preparedness and response strategy to address the  
          language, cultural and other needs of the state's diverse  
          communities.  This bill intends to establish a strategy for  
          the state to address the needs of large number of limited  
          English populations in California to better prepare for and  
          respond to emergencies.

          Arguments in support.  Proponents write in that "California  
          is home to more than six million LEP individuals and, in  
          cases of emergency or natural disasters, these communities  
          must receive lifesaving information in their native  
          language.  Sadly, real life situations have illustrated the  
          effects a lack of emergency communications in languages  
          other than English have on LEP individuals.  During the  
          Hurricane Katrina disaster, at least 70 LEP Jamaican,  
          Peruvian, and Brazilian immigrants died in their homes  
          because warnings and evacuation notices were only announced  
          in English.  AB 1930 will strengthen partnerships among OES  
          and ethnic media and community based organizations, develop  
          guidance to assist local entities, and improve agencies'  




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          capacity to communicate in multiple languages about  
          emergency preparedness."

                            PRIOR/RELATED LEGISLATION
           
           AB 615 (Torrico), 2007-2008 Legislative Sessions  .  Would  
          have required OES to consider the needs of people with  
          limited English proficiency in creating emergency and  
          disaster response plans.  (Died in Assembly Appropriations)  
           

           SB 426 (Kehoe), 2007-2008 Legislative Session  .  Would have  
          established a "Deputy Director for Access and Functional  
          Needs Coordination" position within OES, responsible for  
          preparedness, response and recovery services for  
          individuals of all ages with functional limitations and  
          disabilities - persons who have one or more functional  
          limitations that reduce their ability to move, see, hear,  
          walk, speak, learn, breathe, understand information,  
          respond quickly, or manipulate or reach controls.  (Died in  
          Senate Appropriations)  

           AB 103 (Cohn), Chapter 696, Statutes of 2006  .  Requires the  
          State Department of Education to electronically distribute  
          disaster preparedness educational materials and lesson  
          plans that are currently available to local school  
          districts and county offices of education in at least the 3  
          most dominant primary languages spoken by English learners  
          in California.  Requires the Department of Education to  
          coordinate with OES to make sure that all materials are  
          reviewed and updated, annually.

           SB 1451 (Kehoe), Chapter 600, Statutes of 2006  .  Requires  
          OES to ensure that members of the disabled community are  
          represented on all pertinent SEMS Specialist Committees to  
          ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met  
          during emergency and disaster situations.  Requires OES to  
          submit a report to the Legislature and appropriate state  
          and local agencies by January 1, 2009 containing  
          recommendations regarding emergency preparedness and the  
          needs of people with disabilities.  Requires OES to prepare  
          and disseminate sample brochures and other materials on the  
          emergency preparedness and evacuations needs of the  
          disabled community.  Requires OES and the Office of the  
          State Fire Marshal to seek research funding in order to  
          develop new technologies and information systems that will  




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          assist in the effort to improve emergency services to  
          people with disabilities.

           SB 546 (Dutton), Chapter 232, Statutes of 2005 .  Authorizes  
          OES to share facilities and systems with private businesses  
          and nonprofit organizations in a voluntary program that  
          integrates private sector emergency preparedness measures  
          into governmental disaster planning programs to the extent  
          that the cost of the program is reimbursed by the private  
          sector.

           SUPPORT:   (As of June 20, 2008)

          American Civil Liberties Union
          Applied Research Center
          Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality
          California Association of Nonprofits
          California Church IMPACT
          California Professional Firefighters
          JERICHO
          Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
          Little Hoover Commission
          Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund  
          (MALDEF)
           
          OPPOSE:   (As of June 20, 2008)

          None on file.

           FISCAL COMMITTEE:   Senate Appropriations Committee



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