March 29, 2017

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March 28, 2017

PA Supreme Court Approves Language Access Plan For Courts

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Tuesday announced it has adopted a comprehensive plan to improve access to justice for those with limited English proficiency and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The Language Access Plan is designed to guide the judiciary in meeting language challenges brought by the growing diversity of Pennsylvania’s population. It also further solidifies the courts’ commitment to fair and equal access to justice by providing quality language access services to non-English-speaking and deaf court users.
Pennsylvania is the 10th most linguistically diverse state in the country. Approximately 10 percent of the Commonwealth’s residents speak another language at home.
Spanish is the language for which interpreters are most frequently requested in our courts, with American Sign Language at number two, followed by Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese and Arabic.
The Language Access Plan marks the latest effort by Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System to create solutions to language barriers in the state court system.
The AOPC developed a language access plan template for judicial districts in 2014 to identify existing and develop future language-related services and resources at the local level for judges, court staff, attorneys and the general public.
The plans were implemented in March 2015, and each judicial district designated a language access coordinator to oversee the availability of services in its courts.
In addition, the AOPC’s Interpreter Certification Program has steadily increased the number of certified and qualified interpreters statewide since its inception in 2008. Currently, more than 200 certified and qualified interpreters are on the program’s roster, representing more than 30 languages.  More than 1,400 candidates are currently attempting to become certified.
With the governor’s support, the General Assembly appropriated $1.5 million in 2016 to help counties defray the cost of complying with language access.  In 2016 courts spent $3.2 million in providing interpreter and related language access services.
A Language Access Advisory Group was created 18 months ago by the Supreme Court to develop the statewide plan for the court system. The advisory group included judges, court administrators, court interpreters, legal services providers, and elected government leaders.
The statewide plan provides for increased language access training and data collection procedures for the Commonwealth’s 60 judicial districts.
Pennsylvania already has statewide criminal protective orders, protection from abuse, and protection against sexual violence and intimidation forms translated into multiple languages.
The plan encourages judicial districts to increase the availability of translated local court forms and signage.
Methods for identifying the need for language services at the earliest possible point in the judicial process and the development of a procedure to monitor language access complaints are other elements in the 49-page plan.
Click Here to download a copy of the plan.
For more information, visit the PA Court’s Interpreter Program webpage.

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March 25, 2017

March 24, 2017

March 27 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The March 27 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced 21 organizations across the Commonwealth will receive the prestigious 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for 16 projects that represent the very best in innovation, collaboration, and public service in environmental stewardship.

The PA Association of Environmental Professionals Tuesday announced Eric H. Buncher, Manager of Planning Services for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, is the winner of the Karl Mason Award and the PA Senior Environment Corps managed by Nature Abounds is the winner of the Walter Lyon Award.

StateImpact reported Friday a U.S. Federal District Court Thursday threw out a lawsuit by a group of Wayne County landowners who said the Delaware River Basin Commission lacks the authority to review and approve natural gas facilities on land owned by the group.  The ruling ends one legal threat to a de-facto moratorium by DRBC on shale gas development in the basin that has stood since 2010.

The Trump administration’s proposed 21 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture could cause significant harm to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry and rural communities, according to state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

The National Heritage Areas in Pennsylvania Thursday announced they  strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Mark your 2017 calendar now for dates to drop off a wide variety of materials-- ranging from computers and household chemicals to usable building materials and unwanted medications – at upcoming collection events sponsored by the PA Resources Council and its partners.

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday ordered Nulife Glass NY (Nulife) to remove all 17 million pounds of stored CRT materials from all five warehouses it uses in Pennsylvania within a year.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Councilman Bobby Henon, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., the Philadelphia Energy Authority, and representatives of labor met at Lankenau High School Monday to announce the launch of an energy efficiency pilot program.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Thursday joined Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino and Student Conservation Association representatives in announcing applicants are being sought to expand the highly successful PA Outdoor Corps to work in state parks and state forests across the state.

To read the Digest, visit:  Click Here to print the entire Digest.

PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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