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Sign language restrictions headed to Otter’s desk

Sign language restrictions headed to Otter’s desk

Dustin Hurst
April 7, 2015
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April 7, 2015

A bill to restrict who can perform sign language for pay is headed to Gov. Butch Otter for consideration.

Idaho House members cleared the bill again Monday, the second approval required by the Senate’s amendments to the measure. The House voted 41 to 27 to approve it, close to the original 43 to 22 vote House members offered the first time around.

The bill, shepherded by Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, creates a licensure board to set industry standards and regulate the practice in Idaho. It would charge applicants up to $1,000 just to try for a license, plus up to another $1,000 for the cost of the work permit.

Anyone signing for pay without a permit can be fined and charged with a misdemeanor.

The original bill banned family or friends from signing for the deaf during any medical appointment, including trips to the emergency room. The amendments eased that restriction and the bill now allows family members to sign for relatives in medical appointments until a state-licensed interpreter can be found.

During House committee testimony Steven Snow, administrator for the Idaho Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, told lawmakers the plan would create a supply shortage.

“There will be an interpreter shortage,” Snow told legislators through his own interpreter. “It will be very temporary.”

Otter will now have his chance to weigh in on the bill. He’s no stranger to government restrictions on workers; he signed a measure earlier this year that forces genetic counselors to obtain licenses.

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