Idaho Governor Otter (R)

Idaho Governor Otter (R)

There is a uproar throughout the community because the Governor of Idaho has vetoed a bill (HB 152a) “Sign Language Interpreter Act” that aimed to stop unqualified interpreters from causing miscommunication in important situations such as emergency rooms and/or legal proceedings. This is after the bill had been passed by the House 41-27. Governor Otter focused on the issue of “lack of access” and claims that he is willing to work with stakeholders to create a policy for certified interpreters in the future.

Idaho state house - Wikipedia. Obtained 4/24/2015

Idaho state house – Wikipedia. Obtained 4/24/2015

“The scope and complexity of daily life today suggests the need for sign language interpreters to be licensed to ensure they are qualified and capable of faithfully and competently assisting the deaf or others with speech-related disabilities,” Veto message by Otter

This is after Lieutenant Governor, Brad Little had been the tie breaker in the Senate. The community had been very invested and interested in this bill being passed. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf posted on their Facebook a link to the Boise State Public Radio showing that the bill has been vetoed.

This has attracted hundreds of people and made some people respond in dismay and others in response to the language used in the bill. “I prefer if the law required certified interpreters, not licensed interpreters.” (Wilson Auman)

Others focused on the fact that Otter does not have any communication barriers and that he was practicing “hearing privilege”.

The requirement for a license is supposed to be protecting the public from unqualified practitioners, which is something that is already required in multiple other jobs. There is a shortage of Doctors throughout the country however their license requirements are still enforced. The Governor did not put in account when when he vetoed this bill. The bill had given allowance for slightly over one year (July 1, 2016) for the state to get proceedings in place and to alert the interpreting community. Was this something that the Governor felt was a hindrance and doesn’t give the community ample time to respond to the requirement of a license?

Some of the things that could happen based on this bill includes: an increase in appeals by individuals that use unqualified interpreters in the courtroom, families suing the state for not upholding standard requirements for interpreters in hospitals, and students failing state testings because interpreters in schools are not adequately trained. The Governor has opened up a can of worms in the state of Idaho by not taking advantage of the opportunity to protect his state against those that are not qualified to provide the services.

To be more specific, looking at an emergency situation regardless of whether it’s in a hospital or during an arrest, an unqualified interpreter may lead to malpractice within the business. With the Miranda Warning being dictated by the police officer, it is very important that the person understands their rights. With an unqualified interpreter, misunderstanding and miscommunication could lead to problems. To uphold the requirement of having a qualified, licensed, or certified interpreter; the state would be protecting everybody from trouble including pain, suffering, and loss of money/lives.

“Sign Language Interpreter Act” has been officially been vetoed, what’s next for Idaho?