On Thursday, August 3, 2023, ATA President Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo sent a letter to the California Senate Appropriations Committee on behalf of the ATA Advocacy Committee urging legislators to oppose AB 1032, which is seeking to amend the Trial Court Interpreter Employment and Labor Relations Act. You can read the full bill text here.
What Would AB 1032 Do?
If passed and signed into law, AB 1032 would put language access at risk by lifting certain restrictions on the use of non-certified interpreters, legitimizing the employment of untested interpreters, and creating redundant, as-needed positions. It would also allow the courts to hire untrained relay interpreters to serve on staff in California’s courthouses, even though some Indigenous languages have over 40 variants and therefore, hiring one or two staff interpreters would necessarily only cover a handful of variants and leave many limited English proficient Indigenous language court users unserved. It would also threaten to weaken binding arbitration staff interpreters use to resolve bargaining disputes.
Why Did We Do This?
The ATA Advocacy Committee opted to support two broad coalitions of expert California court interpreters in their calls to oppose this bill because, simply put, it is bad policy. Like its sister bill AB 432, which died in committee thanks to our voices, AB 1032 threatens interpreter pay and working conditions and risks harming the limited English proficient people served by the judicial system, even after it was amended. Guided by 73 current and former union and non-union court employees and contractors and five Indigenous-language contractors in their calls to oppose this bill, ATA felt it was important to lend our voice and encourage the legislators on the Senate Appropriations Committee to oppose the bill. You can read the letter from the Coalition of Working California Interpreters here and the letter from the Mayan language interpreters here.
What is the status of AB 1032?
Bills can either be passed by the Appropriations Committee or placed on the Suspense File. Some legislators have described the Suspense File as a kind of purgatory for bills because they have to pass a closed-door hearing with high-ranking legislators without public debate. The committee chair and leaders of each chamber can choose whether or not to advance the bill based on fiscal impact or simply preference in the final weeks of the legislative session.
On August 14, 2023, AB 1032 went on the Suspense File, which means it could be raised at any time in the final two to three weeks of the legislative session—or die in suspense. As of the writing of this update, it has yet to be raised. We hope legislators have heard the concerns voiced by a broad swath of California’s diverse interpreter community and chose not to advance this bill.
Take Action, Make an Impact
We encourage all ATA members in California to contact your legislators now to tell them why this bill will not work for court interpreters in your state using the talking points in the three letters linked in this post. Click here to find out who your legislators are and write to their offices, call their staffers, and set up a meeting to explain why this bill will not help interpreters in California. This is especially true if your state senator serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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