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SB 28: State Government – Web Sites – Language Access

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

SB 28 would require specified departments, agencies, and programs to take reasonable steps to operate and maintain equal access versions of specified government websites in certain languages. The Department of Information Technology would also be obliged to establish minimum standards to which the equal access versions of specified websites must conform.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us not only to welcome immigrants, but also that political authorities have a responsibility to promote the common good (no. 2241). Pope Francis reiterated this when he said, “It is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and promote the common good of society. Based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building, it plays a fundamental role, one which cannot be delegated, in working for the integral development of all” (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 240).

 

The state government has made numerous strides forward in promoting the common good for those with limited English proficiency by codifying the right to equal access to public services via oral language services and the translation of vital documents. However, as the government relies on websites more and more to distribute and receive information, we must extend the right to equal access to public services to those websites as well. The translation(s) of websites would improve the ability for immigrants to integrate into our society and help those who work in public service provide a better quality of care to those they serve, thus promoting the common good in Maryland.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support SB 28.