Inclusive Language Emergency Situations
The bill requires the division of homeland security and emergency management in the department of public safety (division) to conduct a study of what municipalities, sheriff's offices, counties, fire districts, and local 911 agencies need to be able to provide emergency alerts in a minority language and what local 911 agencies need to provide live interpretation during a 911 call. The division shall present the study to the judiciary committees of the house of representatives and senate, or to any successor committees, during the committees' "SMART Act" hearings held during the 2024 session of the general assembly. Beginning January 1, 2026, the bill requires an evacuation alert and other public safety alerts sent by a county or municipality to be sent by text via a reverse 911 text. In addition to being in English, the alert must also be in a minority language if: The county or municipality has at least 2,000 residents who are 18 years of age or older and who speak English less than very well, as defined by the United States bureau of the census American community survey or comparable census data, and who speak a shared minority language at home; or At least 2.5% of residents in the county or municipality who are 18 years of age or older speak English less than very well, as defined by the United States bureau of the census American community survey or comparable census data, and speak a shared minority language at home.
- Identify the essential components of multi-hazard early warning systems necessary in order to easily and successfully reach residents and visitors without having to opt in, as well as opt-in options, outputs for emergency alert systems and messages, and the ability to provide emergency alerts by using translations in minority languages;
- Survey state agencies, counties, municipalities, sheriff's offices, fire districts, fire authorities, and local 911 agencies to identify the current capabilities of existing emergency alert systems used in Colorado and compare them to the identified essential components;
- Identify gaps in the capabilities of existing emergency alert systems requiring correction;
- Identify resources, including federal funding opportunities, to implement a grant program to assist municipalities, sheriff's offices, counties, fire districts, and local 911 agencies in obtaining emergency response technology systems that can provide emergency alerts in minority languages;
- Determine best practices, which may be identified by reviewing programs in other states, for hiring multilingual and multicultural staff;
- Determine best practices for engaging local community organizations with connections to populations that speak a minority language; and
- Present research regarding effective emergency alerts for people with disabilities after consultation with a statewide organization that advocates for people with disabilities.
The university of Colorado's natural hazard center shall submit its study report to the division of homeland security and emergency management in the department of public safety and to the general assembly by January 8, 2024.
The bill appropriates $61,607 from the general fund to the department of higher education to implement the study.
(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)