Press Release: Hogan Not Complying with “Language Access” Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 3, 2017           
Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
Hogan Administration Fails to Comply with “Language Access” Law

ANNAPOLIS, MD: More than a year after “Language Access” went into effect, the Hogan Administration still has not implemented the law– providing translation on only 39.3% of State government websites. The 2016 law required translation into languages spoken by at least 0.5% of Marylanders. According to the most recent Census, this currently includes Spanish and Chinese. 

Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) sponsored this legislation– the first of its kind in the nation– because of Maryland’s growing diversity and role in the increasingly global economy.  Kagan was dismayed by the results of a review of 112 State websites updated today. “Residents, tourists, and international businesses considering a partnership in Maryland need to connect with our State government. Whether it’s due to indifference to those who don’t yet speak English fluently or failure to make accessibility a priority, I call on the Administration to fully implement the law Governor Hogan signed,” said Kagan.

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, was also surprised by the Administration’s slow progress. “We endorsed this law to make Maryland more accessible to native speakers of other languages. Hogan’s team doesn’t seem to share that goal.”

When Maryland websites were surveyed before “Language Access” was enacted, 83% were monolingual. Movement has been slow since the law took effect over a year ago, on July 1, 2016. As of today, 50.9% still offer no translation whatsoever and 9.8% are Spanish-only, in violation of the law. Among the worrisome omissions are:

An August meeting scheduled by Senator Kagan with the Department of Information Technology’s Acting Secretary was cancelled by the Agency with no explanation. Prior to the scheduled meeting, an abysmal 12% of sites were multi-lingual as required. “Translation is completely free, effective, and easy to implement. While this Administration is belatedly making some progress, a majority of State government websites are still not compliant with the Language Access law,” said Kagan.
* * * * 
About Senator Cheryl C. Kagan: Senator Kagan (D) represents District 17, Rockville and Gaithersburg, in the Maryland General Assembly. First elected in 1994 to the House of Delegates, Kagan served two terms before stepping down to work in the non-profit sector. In 2014, Kagan returned to elected office, winning her first term to the Maryland State Senate. Kagan serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, Joint Audit Committee, and Joint Committee on Federal Relations and is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds.