Florida Senate - 2014                                    SB 1304
       By Senator Altman
       16-00756-14                                           20141304__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to interpreters for persons who are
    3         deaf or hard of hearing; creating part XVII of ch.
    4         468, F.S., as “Interpreters for the Deaf or Hard of
    5         Hearing”; creating s. 468.861, F.S.; providing a
    6         purpose; creating s. 468.8611, F.S.; defining terms;
    7         creating s. 468.8612, F.S.; creating the Board of
    8         Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
    9         providing member qualifications and terms; creating s.
   10         468.8613, F.S.; requiring the board to adopt rules;
   11         creating s. 468.8614, F.S.; providing requirements to
   12         receive a license or permit; providing continuing
   13         education requirements; creating s. 468.8615, F.S.;
   14         providing requirements for active and inactive status
   15         election; creating s. 468.8616, F.S.; authorizing a
   16         provisional permit; creating s. 468.8617, F.S.;
   17         providing fees; creating s. 468.8618, F.S.;
   18         prohibiting certain actions by individuals; providing
   19         penalties; creating s. 468.8619, F.S.; providing
   20         inapplicability; providing an effective date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Part XVII of chapter 468, Florida Statutes,
   25  consisting of sections 468.861-468.8619, Florida Statutes, is
   26  created and entitled “Interpreters for the Deaf or Hard of
   27  Hearing.”
   28         Section 2. Section 468.861, Florida Statutes, is created to
   29  read:
   30         468.861Purpose.—The Legislature finds it necessary and in
   31  the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to
   32  regulate the industry of interpreters for persons who are deaf,
   33  hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.
   34         Section 3. Section 468.8611, Florida Statutes, is created
   35  to read:
   36         468.8611Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
   37         (1) “Deaf or hard of hearing” includes, but is not limited
   38  to, individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and
   39  oral deaf.
   40         (2) “Deaf-blind individual” means an individual who has a
   41  combined loss of vision and hearing which prevents the
   42  individual’s vision or hearing from being used as a primary
   43  source for accessing information.
   44         (3) “Deaf individual” means an individual who has a
   45  documented hearing loss so severe that the individual is unable
   46  to process speech and language through hearing, with or without
   47  amplification.
   48         (4) “Deaf interpreter” means a deaf or hard of hearing
   49  individual who holds a nationally recognized certification,
   50  possesses native or near-native fluency in American Sign
   51  Language, has interpreter training or experience in the use of
   52  gestures, mime, props, drawings, and other tools to enhance
   53  communication, and has knowledge and understanding of deafness,
   54  the deaf community, and the deaf culture.
   55         (5) “Department” means the Department of Business and
   56  Professional Regulation.
   57         (6) “Hard of hearing individual” means an individual who
   58  has a hearing loss or other auditory disabling conditions that
   59  may require the use of visual methods or assistive listening
   60  devices to communicate.
   61         (7) “Interpret” means to provide language equivalency
   62  between a hearing individual and an individual who is deaf or
   63  hard of hearing.
   64         (8)“Interpreter” means an individual who engages in the act
   65  of interpreting.
   66         (9) “Interpreting agency” means an entity that provides
   67  qualified interpreter services for a fee.
   68         (10) “Signed language” means a continuum of visual-gestural
   69  language and communication systems that employ manual signs made
   70  with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions
   71  and postures of the body. The term includes, but is not limited
   72  to, American Sign Language, English-based signs, or other visual
   73  communications methods.
   74         (11) “Video interpreter” means an interpreter using remote
   75  video technology who assists an individual who is deaf or hard
   76  of hearing and an individual who is hearing to communicate with
   77  each other when at least one of the three parties is in a remote
   78  location.
   79         Section 4. Section 468.8612, Florida Statutes, is created
   80  to read:
   81         468.8612Board of Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of
   82  Hearing.—
   83         (1) The Board of Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of
   84  Hearing, a board as defined in s. 20.03, is created within the
   85  department. Members shall be appointed by the secretary of the
   86  department upon recommendation of the Florida Registry of
   87  Interpreters for the Deaf and the Florida Association of the
   88  Deaf. Members shall be appointed to 4-year terms. A vacancy on
   89  the board shall be filled for the remaining portion of the term
   90  in the same manner as the original appointment. A member may not
   91  serve more than two consecutive 4-year terms, or more than 11
   92  years, on the board.
   93         (2) The board shall consist of 11 members, of whom:
   94         (a) Six are primarily engaged in business as sign language
   95  interpreters; however, at least one educational interpreter, one
   96  video interpreter, and one deaf interpreter shall be appointed.
   97         (b) Three are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind members
   98  who are not, and have never been, members or practitioners of a
   99  profession regulated by the board.
  100         (c) One is primarily engaged in business as an interpreter
  101  referral agency owner.
  102         (d) One is a hearing member who is not, and has never been,
  103  a member or practitioner of a profession regulated by the board.
  104         (3) To achieve staggered terms, the initial appointments
  105  shall be as follows:
  106         (a) One member who is deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind
  107  as provided under paragraph (2)(b), one member who is an
  108  interpreter referral agency owner as provided under paragraph
  109  (2)(c), and one member who is a hearing member as provided under
  110  paragraph (2)(d), for 2-year terms;
  111         (b) Two members who are primarily engaged in business as
  112  sign language interpreters as provided under paragraph (2)(a)
  113  and two members who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind as
  114  provided under paragraph (2)(b), for 3-year terms; and
  115         (c) Four members who are primarily engaged in business as
  116  sign language interpreters as provided under paragraph (2)(a)
  117  for 4-year terms.
  118         (4) To be eligible to serve, each interpreter member must
  119  have been licensed by the board to operate as an interpreter in
  120  the category with respect to which the member is appointed, be
  121  actively engaged in the interpreting profession, and have been
  122  so engaged for a period of not less than 5 consecutive years
  123  before the date of appointment. Each appointee must be a
  124  resident of the state.
  125         (5) The provisions of chapter 455 relating to activities of
  126  the board apply.
  127         Section 5. Section 468.8613, Florida Statutes, is created
  128  to read:
  129         468.8613Rulemaking.—The board shall adopt rules to
  130  implement and administer this part.
  131         Section 6. Section 468.8614, Florida Statutes, is created
  132  to read:
  133         468.8614License; permit; continuing education.
  134         (1) A person may not engage in interpreting for persons who
  135  are deaf or hard of hearing in this state without first
  136  receiving a license or permit under this part. The board shall
  137  determine the qualifications for receiving a license or permit.
  138         (2)The department shall issue a license or permit to each
  139  person qualified by the board upon receipt of the applicable
  140  fee.
  141         (3) The department shall issue a license or permit to an
  142  applicant who holds an active license or permit issued by
  143  another state or territory of the United States to practice as
  144  an interpreter for the deaf or hard of hearing if:
  145         (a) The criteria for issuance is substantially equivalent
  146  to the criteria for a license or permit under this part; or
  147         (b) The state or territory has entered into a reciprocal
  148  agreement with the board for the recognition of a license or
  149  permit issued in that state for interpreters for the deaf or
  150  hard of hearing based on criteria that is substantially
  151  equivalent to the criteria for a license or permit under this
  152  part.
  153         (4)(a) An applicant for initial issuance of a license or
  154  permit shall submit to a statewide criminal history records
  155  check through the Department of Law Enforcement. The department
  156  shall submit the requests for the criminal history records check
  157  to the Department of Law Enforcement for state processing, and
  158  the Department of Law Enforcement shall return the results to
  159  the department to determine whether the applicant meets
  160  licensure requirements.
  161         (b) An initial applicant shall submit a complete set of
  162  fingerprints to the department with the application. The
  163  fingerprints shall be submitted to the Department of Law
  164  Enforcement for state processing, and the Department of Law
  165  Enforcement shall forward them to the Federal Bureau of
  166  Investigation for national processing for the purpose of
  167  determining if the applicant has a criminal history record. The
  168  department shall and the board may review the results of the
  169  background check to determine whether an applicant meets license
  170  or permit requirements. The cost for the fingerprint processing
  171  shall be borne by the person subject to the background
  172  screening. Such fees shall be collected by the authorized
  173  agencies or vendors, which are responsible for paying the
  174  processing costs to the Department of Law Enforcement.
  175         (c) If an applicant has been convicted of a felony, the
  176  board may deny the application based upon the severity of the
  177  crime, the relationship of the crime to interpreting, or the
  178  potential for public harm. In denying or approving a license or
  179  permit, the department shall also consider the length of time
  180  since the commission of the crime and the rehabilitation of the
  181  applicant. The department may not deny a license or permit to an
  182  applicant based solely upon a felony conviction or the
  183  applicant’s failure to provide proof of restoration of civil
  184  rights.
  185         (5)(a) Each licensee or permitholder must renew his or her
  186  license every 2 years. The department shall mail each licensee
  187  or permitholder an application for renewal at least 60 days
  188  before expiration. The applicant for renewal shall complete,
  189  sign, and forward the renewal application to the department,
  190  together with the appropriate fee. Upon receipt of the
  191  application and fee, the department shall determine whether the
  192  applicant is qualified and, if qualified, renew the license.
  193         (b) Each licensee or permitholder shall provide proof, in a
  194  form established by the board, that the licensee or permitholder
  195  has completed at least 40 hours of continuing education courses
  196  during each biennium since the issuance or renewal of the
  197  license or permit. A portion of the required 40 hours must deal
  198  with the profession of interpreting. The board shall establish
  199  criteria for the approval of continuing education courses and
  200  providers, including requirements relating to the content of
  201  courses and standards for approval of providers. The board may
  202  establish criteria for accepting alternative nonclassroom
  203  continuing education on an hour-for-hour basis. The board shall
  204  prescribe the continuing education, if any, which is required
  205  during the first biennium of initial licensure. A licensee or
  206  permitholder is not required to complete the full 40 hours of
  207  continuing education if he or she has held the license or permit
  208  for less than an entire biennium.
  209         Section 7. Section 468.8615, Florida Statutes, is created
  210  to read:
  211         468.8615Inactive and delinquent status; renewal and
  212  cancellation notices.—
  213         (1) A person may not engage in services as an interpreter
  214  for the deaf or hard of hearing unless he or she has an active
  215  license or permit. A person who engages in interpreting without
  216  an active license or permit is subject to disciplinary action as
  217  provided in s. 468.8618.
  218         (2) A licensee or permitholder may elect, at the time of
  219  licensure renewal, an active or inactive status.
  220         (3) The holder of an inactive license or permit may convert
  221  the license or permit to active status at any time if he or she
  222  meets the requirements for active status, pays any additional
  223  fees necessary to equal those imposed on an active status
  224  licensee or permitholder, pays any applicable late fees, and
  225  meets all continuing education requirements prescribed by the
  226  board.
  227         (4) If a licensee or permitholder does not renew an active
  228  or inactive license or permit before its expiration, the license
  229  or permit shall be delinquent. A delinquent licensee or
  230  permitholder must apply with a completed application, as
  231  determined by the board, for active or inactive status during
  232  the current licensure cycle. Failure by a delinquent licensee or
  233  permitholder to restore active or inactive status before the end
  234  of the current licensure cycle renders the license void, and any
  235  subsequent attempts to obtain a license or permit shall be
  236  treated as an initial application for a license or permit.
  237         (6) The board may not require the holder of an inactive
  238  license or permit to complete more than one renewal cycle of
  239  continuing education in order to reactivate the license or
  240  permit.
  241         (7) The status of a licensee or permitholder does not
  242  affect the board’s right to impose or enforce disciplinary
  243  action for acts or omissions committed by such person while
  244  holding a license or permit.
  245         (8) At least 60 days before the end of a licensure cycle,
  246  the department shall forward:
  247         (a) A renewal notification to the holder of an active or
  248  inactive license or permit at his or her address of record; and
  249         (b) A notice of pending cancellation of license or permit
  250  to a delinquent licensee or permitholder at his or her address
  251  of record.
  252         Section 8. Section 468.8616, Florida Statutes, is created
  253  to read:
  254         468.8616Provisional permit.—The department shall, upon
  255  receipt of a completed application and appropriate fee, issue a
  256  provisional permit to an interpreter who applies to the
  257  department and demonstrates that he or she is employed as an
  258  interpreter as of July 1, 2014, and has at least 5 years of
  259  documented full time experience as an interpreter for the deaf
  260  and hard of hearing. Applicants wishing to obtain a provisional
  261  permit must apply before September 1, 2014.
  262         Section 9. Section 468.8617, Florida Statutes, is created
  263  to read:
  264         468.8617Fees.—
  265         (1) The board shall charge a fee for applications for a
  266  license or permit, license or permit renewal applications,
  267  recordmaking, and recordkeeping.
  268         (a) The application fee may not exceed $100.
  269         (b) The initial license or permit fee may not exceed $300.
  270         (c) The biennial renewal fee may not exceed $300.
  271         (d) The board may establish delinquency fees, not to exceed
  272  the applicable fee for renewal applications made after the
  273  expiration date of the license or permit.
  274         (e) The board shall impose a fee for renewal of an inactive
  275  license or permit, not to exceed the renewal fee for an active
  276  license or permit. The inactive license or permit fee may not
  277  exceed $50.
  278         (f) The board shall impose an additional late fee on a
  279  delinquent licensee or permitholder when such applicant applies
  280  for active or inactive status.
  281         (g) The board shall impose an additional fee, not to exceed
  282  the applicable biennial renewal fee, which reasonably reflects
  283  the costs of processing a request to change a status at any time
  284  other than at the beginning of a licensure cycle.
  285         (h) The board shall establish fees that are adequate to
  286  ensure the continued operation of the board. Fees shall be based
  287  on department estimates of the revenue required to implement and
  288  administer this part and the rules adopted thereto.
  289         (2) In addition to the initial application fees and renewal
  290  fees under subsection (1), a fee of $4 shall be assessed by the
  291  department at the time of application or renewal which shall be
  292  collected and transferred at the end of each licensure cycle to
  293  the department to fund projects relating to interpreting for the
  294  deaf and hard of hearing or to continuing education programs
  295  offered to persons engaged in interpreting for the deaf and hard
  296  of hearing in this state. The board shall, at the time the funds
  297  are transferred, advise the department on the most needed areas
  298  of research or continuing education based on significant changes
  299  in industry practices or this part, or on the most common types
  300  of consumer complaints. The board’s advice is not binding on the
  301  department. The department shall report to the board in October
  302  of each year, summarizing the allocation of the funds by
  303  institution and summarizing the new projects funded and the
  304  status of previously funded projects.
  305         Section 10. Section 468.8618, Florida Statutes, is created
  306  to read:
  307         468.8618Prohibitions; penalties.—
  308         (1) An interpreting agency may not employ or subcontract
  309  with an interpreter who does not hold a license or permit issued
  310  under this part.
  311         (2) Public funds may not be used to employ interpreters who
  312  do not hold a license or permit issued under this part.
  313         (3) A person may not:
  314         (a) Falsely hold himself or herself out as having a license
  315  or permit as an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  316         (b) Falsely impersonate a licensee or permitholder.
  317         (c) Present as his or her own the license or permit of
  318  another.
  319         (d) Knowingly give false or forged evidence to the board or
  320  a member thereof.
  321         (e) Use or attempt to use a license or permit that has been
  322  suspended or revoked.
  323         (f) Act in the capacity of an interpreter for the deaf or
  324  hard of hearing, or advertise himself or herself as available to
  325  engage in the services or act in the capacity of an interpreter,
  326  without holding a license or permit.
  327         (4) A person who violates subsection (3) commits a
  328  misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
  329  775.082 or s. 775.083. A person who violates subsection (3)
  330  after having been previously found guilty of such violation
  331  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  332  s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
  333         Section 11. Section 468.8619, Florida Statutes, is created
  334  to read:
  335         468.8619 Inapplicability.—This part does not apply to:
  336         (1) A student or intern practicing for a limited number of
  337  hours under the supervision of an interpreter who holds a valid
  338  license or provisional permit.
  339         (2) An interpreter providing interpretation to or from
  340  foreign signed or spoken languages for which a national
  341  certification exam does not exist.
  342         (3) An appointing authority, pursuant to s. 395.1041, which
  343  uses an unlicensed interpreter who does not meet the
  344  requirements of this part in an emergency situation if:
  345         (a) The decision was made in the best medical or legal
  346  judgment of the appointing authority;
  347         (b) A life-threatening emergency situation exists; and
  348         (c) All reasonable efforts have been exhausted by the
  349  appointing authority to locate a licensed interpreter from
  350  within a 60-mile radius, and documentation to that effect is
  351  provided to the division upon request.
  352         (4) During a state or national emergency, an individual
  353  facilitating communication between a first responder and a
  354  person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind until a
  355  qualified interpreter may be found.
  356         Section 12. This act shall take effect October 1, 2014.