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New NJ law requires state documents be translated into 7 languages

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A new bill in New Jersey requires state agencies and departments to translate documents into the seven most-spoken, non-English languages in two years.

About the law: Signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) on Jan. 12, the bill, S2459, requires state government entities to “undertake document translations at a rate of five languages in the first year and two in the second year." Census data, as per NorthJersey.com, list Spanish, Filipino/Tagalog, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Gujarati and Portuguese as the seven most common non-English languages spoken in the state.

With the recent bill passing, New Jersey now joins a list of jurisdictions with similar laws in effect, including Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and others.

Why it matters: Sen. Tereza Ruiz, Democratic Majority Leader of the New Jersey Senate, one of the bill's sponsors, said it will “remove the language barrier faced by so many of our communities” as it would ensure that “all state entities are prepared to assist our residents regardless of what language they speak.”

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Meanwhile, co-sponsor Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-NJ) lauded the bill for ensuring “we aren’t relying on kids to connect families to life-saving resources.”

Estimated costs: The Office of Legislative Services noted that the new law will result in annual cost increases for government entities, the total of which will depend on the interpretation and translation services they already provide and additional services needed to meet new requirements. The budget needed for implementation, which is $500,000, is listed in New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

 

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