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House Bill 46

House Bill 46

Phil Haunschild
January 25, 2017

Bill description: This bill requires anyone who interprets American Sign Language as a service to have a license.

Rating: -6

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government? 

This bill puts American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters under the authority of the Speech and Hearing Services Licensure Board, which would become the Speech Hearing and Communication Services Board. An estimated 100 more interpreters would be regulated by the renamed board. (-1)

Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board's purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector? 

The free market already regulates interpreting services. Accreditation agencies currently determine proficiency in American Sign Language. Just as a company may require an employee speak two languages, so may they seek out ASL interpreters. How proficient an interpreter is for a company or agency to determine. (-1)

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market? 

Passage of this bill would impose severe restrictions on the market for interpretation services. The government would substantially reduce the ability of individuals and companies to hire whomever they want. A transaction that currently requires two willing parties would now require a licensing body as an intermediary in the transaction. (-1)

Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market? 

When first introduced in 2015 and as currently written, the bill contends the state could reduce poor interpretation services. The bill would, however, create a much bigger problem: a shortage of interpreters. Its licensing requirements, include the current fee set by the board, creates a substantial barrier into the market for ASL interpreters. Fewer individuals would offer their services and in some places where there were few interpreters there would likely be none. (-1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments? 

The additional $12,500 raised in fees for those 100 unnecessary licensees is expected to be eaten up by administration costs, providing no tax relief.  (-1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? 

This bill makes a rare and valuable service a crime. Any interpreter not licensed after  passage of this bill could be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, an individual faces a fine of up to $1,000 fine and as much as 6 months in jail. Where individuals freely exchange sign language interpretation for money there are no victims. There is no need for this to be a crime. (-1)

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