By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphians who vote in the May 19th primary are likely to face a ballot referendum on the sometimes-controversial issue of government access for those who don’t speak English.

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Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez wants to change the city charter so that all departments and agencies would be required to have plans on dealing with residents who primarily speak other languages.

“English is the language of the United States and we want everybody to learn English. But we’re dealing with a global country, that through the internet and other things — we have manufacturers here — we want to say that we can speak other languages too,” she says.

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The Nutter Administration does require such language access plans for each city department under an executive order. But Sanchez’s plan would make the requirement permanent, and would extend it to other elected offices like the District Attorney and Sheriff.

Her bill was approved this past week in City Council. If signed by the mayor the proposal would go to voters in a referendum in May.

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“If we are going to celebrate the recognition that Philadelphia is becoming a global city, this is one of those steps in ensuring that our charter now reflects that,” says Sanchez.