Landmark Language Access Bill Package Passes the House
DETROIT, MI - Rising Voices, a leading Asian American advocacy organization in Michigan, applauds the historic passage of the “Meaningful Language Access to State Services Act” bill package (HB 4720 and SB 382) in the state House of Representatives. This landmark comprehensive language access legislation will lower barriers to accessing essential state services and opportunities our immigrant, refugee, Indigenous, and limited English proficient (LEP) communities need to flourish and stay in Michigan. We are thankful to House Majority Whip Representative Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) and Representative John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming) who authored and championed these bills through the House.
Language access is critical to building a just, safe, welcoming, and culturally responsive community that fosters a sense of belonging. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, over 940,000 Michiganders speak another language besides English at home, over 300,000 Michiganders speak English with limited proficiency, and approximately 35,000 do not speak English at all. When Michiganders cannot communicate fully and accurately with state agencies, they are denied fair and meaningful access to resources, information, and services. As our state population grows more diverse, building systems-wide language access and accountability can improve the lives of all LEP residents, particularly immigrants and communities of color facing systemic inequities. Michigan has a lot to be proud of right now—we’re making great strides towards building a more welcoming and inclusive place to live and we are one step closer to that reality today.
We are disappointed that there was no Republican support for this common-sense package in the House even though it passed the Senate with bipartisan support. House Republicans once again are turning their backs on immigrant communities that are the primary drivers of Michigan’s population growth and economy.
Rising Voices and coalition partners helped draft this legislation and testified in front of the Senate and House committees in support. We are also grateful for Senator Stephanie Chang and Senator Mary Cavanagh who authored and championed these bills through the Senate. With minor changes to the House bills, the package will go back to the Senate for a final concurring vote. We urge the Senate to pass this legislation before the session adjourns. And we call on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to sign this bill package to keep Michigan growing!
Rising Voices, a project of the Center for Empowered Politics, is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization that seeks to increase the civic participation of Asian Americans in Michigan by developing the leadership, organizing, and power-building capacity of Asian American women, youth and communities. risingvoicesaaf.org