The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of Senate Bill 872 (SB 872). The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
SB 872 establishes the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program to award competitive grants to institutions of higher education to develop and implement pilot programs that provide inclusive opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The program is jointly administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD). The Governor must provide $250,000 annually in the budget bill from fiscal 2019 through 2021 for the program.
The Maryland Catholic Conference supports SB 872 because it intersects with the Church’s obligation to care for those with disabilities. The Church calls for the defense of policies “that enable individuals with disabilities... to achieve the fullest measure of personal development [possible] ”, and foster the creation of a stronger and more integrated support system. SB 355 will enable individuals with IDD to pursue higher education goals and will provide the framework and financial incentive for institutes of higher learning to become an integral part in making those goals a reality. In the interest of enabling members of the disability community to achieve the fullest measure of personal development possible, the Church supports SB 872.
It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference respectfully urges a favorable report for SB 872. Thank you for your consideration.