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Hearing on county's English language bill set for Oct. 30

The Board of County Commissioners will hold its public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 30, regarding the proposal to designate English as the official language of Carroll County.

The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at the New Windsor Community Building, Community Meeting Room, 1100 Green Valley Road, New Windsor.

This ordinance, if passed, would recognize English as the language in which all official county business will be conducted.

The ordinance, as proposed, can be read HERE

Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement that it would "ensure that all official county business is conducted in English, which will save the county money, simplify county communications and provide incentives to learn English to those living in Carroll County."

At a Sept. 28 commissioner meeting, Commissioner Doug Howard joined a 4-0 vote to advance the ordinance to the public hearing, but raised questions about its purpose and how it will be implemented.

In a press release, Howard said "if this ordinance is ultimately adopted, the county should provide adequate funds for English as a second language classes to give citizens the opportunity to live the American dream."

Critics have said the measure is unnecessary, and would send a message to minority populations in the county that they are unwelcome.

A recent Baltimore Sun article quoted Judy Smith of Union Bridge telling the commissioners, "Republicans say they want to enlarge the tent. You are making it a pup tent."

The Sun noted that if the measure succeeds, Carroll would be the third locality in Maryland — along with Frederick and Queen Anne's counties — to adopt such a policy. Across the country, 31 states have enacted similar legislation.

After the Oct. 30 hearing, the commissioners may make amendments to the proposed ordinance based on the comments received. If they do, those changes could advance without a further hearing.

No date has been set for a full vote on the ordinance after the hearing.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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