From the President: Advocacy and Other Business

From the President
Ted R. Wozniak

As I conclude the third month of my term as president, I find myself spending a lot of time on advocacy efforts.

2020 is shaping up to be a year in which ATA focuses a great deal on state and national legislation affecting the translation and interpreting professions. As expected, California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which went into effect January 1, has had widespread negative consequences for many of our members in California. Similar legislation has been or will be proposed in other states.

In response, ATA is supporting the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California (CoPTIC)1 in its efforts to drum up grassroots support for an amendment to the law, providing a specific exemption for translators and interpreters. Working with the Joint National Committee for Languages2 and CoPTIC, ATA issued an official statement3 in favor of such an exemption as well as an information sheet for use by members when advocating for such an exemption with their state legislators (see page 7). ATA also issued a statement in response to California Senate Bill 875, which proposes including translators and interpreters in the list of professional services that are exempt from the ABC Test requirement in AB 5.4 While well-intentioned, the proposed wording is very problematic and shows a lack of understanding of the translation and interpreting professions. A “clean” straightforward exemption for translators and interpreters remains the best solution to this problem. A victory in California will greatly facilitate obtaining similar exemptions in other states that pass strict versions of the ABC Test.

Through its membership in the Professional Certification Coalition5, ATA is also monitoring state legislation regarding voluntary certification programs to ensure that they do not negatively impact ATA’s Certification Program.

But not all proposed legislation has negative consequences for ATA members. H.R. 5339, the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act6, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Abigail Davis Spanberger, would permit ATA members to use 529 tax-preferred savings accounts to pay for expenses related to becoming certified (e.g., practice tests, exam preparation, and costs) and maintaining certification (e.g., continuing education requirements such as professional development training and attendance at the Annual Conference). I encourage you to contact your representatives and senators to urge them to support this bill.

It’s Not All Politics

But don’t think legislative advocacy is the only thing ATA and I have been working on for the past three months. Planning is well underway for ATA’s 61st Annual Conference, to be held in Boston October 21–24. (For more of what ATA61 has in store, see ATA President-Elect Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo’s column on page 4 of this issue.) The Professional Development Committee continues to work on expanding and improving professional development opportunities, including webinars and in-person events, in part driven by the recent Professional Development Survey in which members provided topics of interest to them. At ATA Headquarters, the new website is nearing completion and should debut in the near future. The Membership Committee continues to examine ways to increase the value of ATA membership, to reach and recruit new members, and retain current members. The Governance and Communications Committee is working on policies to increase transparency at ATA.

I had hoped to report on these developments and other outcomes from the recent Board of Directors meeting here, but my submission deadline requires that I include that report in my next column. Until next time.

  1. Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California,
  2. Joint National Committee for Languages,
  3. Statement of Position Regarding California Assembly Bill 5 and Request for Exemption,
  4. ATA Statement on California SB 875 (Exemption to AB 5 for Translators and Interpreters),
  5. Professional Certification Coalition,
  6. H.R. 5339—Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act,
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