Maryland county looks to repeal 'English-only' ordinance

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Posted at 5:51 AM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 05:52:00-05

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — Commissioners in a Maryland county are looking to repeal at 2013 ordinance that made English the official language of the community.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to hold a public hearing about undoing the law, The Carroll County Times reported.

The ordinance requires all county documents, publications, hearing notices and public business to be written or conducted in English only, according to county attorney Tim Burke. It is preempted by federal and state laws that require certain government services to be accessible to the public in other languages.

Burke told the commissioners he believed the intent of the ordinance was to avoid unnecessary translation costs and to “encourage assimilation” in the county, though he added that the board isn't aware of any cost savings from the measure.

District 3 Rep. Dennis Frazier, a Republican, said Thursday that the ordinance makes the county “look bad” and appear “divisive.”

District 5 Rep. Haven Shoemaker told the newspaper that the ordinance was his idea.

“For the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would think that’s a bad thing or unfriendly thing," the Republican commissioner said. "We just want folks to assimilate and become Americans.”

Two other Maryland counties had adopted similar ordinances, though one of those has since repealed it, the newspaper said.

The date of the public hearing has yet to be announced.