One of our priority bills, HB-1237 (Inclusive Language in Emergency Situations), is being heard in committee on Monday, March 27.
Voces Unidas actively lobbies for pro-immigrant, pro-Latino policies. Below is testimony from Alex Sánchez, as prepared.
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March 27, 2023
Members of the State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee,
My name is Alex Sánchez. I am the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund, two Latino advocacy organizations working in Lake, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield counties. I am testifying today to express my support for HB23-1237, Inclusive Language in Emergency Situations.
First, I would like to thank Representatives Velasco and Senator Perry Will, for their bipartisan work on this issue that is of particular importance for those of us who live and work on the Western Slope.
This is a priority bill for us because of the high number of residents in the communities we serve whose first language is Spanish, and because of the increasing number of extreme weather events, natural disasters and other emergencies we’re seeing throughout the region.
Across the central-mountain region we are constantly on alert for wildfires, avalanches, floods and other natural disasters. We are increasingly reliant upon reverse-911 calls and other notifications sent to residents when there are threats to public safety and personal property, or when there are road closures or other transportation issues. And we need to be able to communicate with dispatchers and 911 operators when reporting an emergency.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of residents in our service area whose first language is Spanish is 24% in Garfield County, 23% in Eagle County, 16% in Lake County, 10% in Summit County, and 7.1% in Pitkin County. Statewide, that figure is 11%.
Under our current emergency-response system, we are putting many of them, their families or their property at risk.
Colorado recognizes the importance of providing information in multiple languages when it comes to voting, now we have the opportunity to determine how to do that in emergency situations.
This measure would determine the resources emergency-response agencies need to issue alerts in multiple languages and what 911 centers need to provide live interpretation during a 911 call, and we urge you to support its passage.