ANNAPOLIS—A House committee yesterday began considering a bill that would make English the official language of state government.
The bill is co-sponsored by two Republican delegates from Baltimore County and has bipartisan support in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly. The House Health and Government Operations Committee yesterday held a hearing on the legislation, which would require that all government business be conducted in English.
“We need to have a language in common that unites all of us together,” Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of U.S. English Inc., testified during the hearing. “It is good to speak my language . . . but a common language allows diversity to function.”
Mr. Mujica, who emigrated from Chile and is now a U.S. citizen, said 27 states—including Virginia—have designated English as the official language of state government, a movement for which his group lobbies.
Opponents of the bill testified for more than an hour yesterday, saying the legislation would discourage immigrants from moving to the state.
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, Montgomery County Democrat, issued a statement calling the bill an “offensive and harmful proposal.”
“It is very important that our communities come together to demonstrate our opposition to measures that would severely limit the rights and freedoms of all immigrants in Maryland,” Miss Gutierrez said. “We must not let Maryland become another Virginia or Arizona, where the civil rights of foreign-born workers, residents and citizens are violated every day.”