To: Senate Judiciary Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: Senate Bill 2028 (To Provide a Guardianship Services System)
Date: January 10, 2005

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports Senate Bill 2028 to provide a guardianship services system in North Dakota.

Others have or will testify to the specific need for such a system. A guardianship task force and interim legislative committee have studied the issues related to guardianship services and concluded that a need exists to expand guardianship services to afford protection for vulnerable adults. This conclusion is supported by the Catholic Church in North Dakota, which through Catholic Charities of North Dakota, is one of the entities that currently provides guardianship services.

It is not, however, our experience alone that draws our support for this bill. One of the Ten Commandments states: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you." This call to honor the family is also a basis upon which our society is built.

In our brothers and sisters, we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors; in our fellow citizens, the children of our country. In this way, our relationships with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character. This is why the Old Testament prophets called on society to care for the orphan, the widow, and the immigrant. These persons, who in that time were the ones without family and community support, were to be cared for like family. Guardianship programs continue that call today. They serve the ones often without family like family, providing needed assistance and protection.

There is a growing need to care for the vulnerable persons among us in a manner that respects their dignity and acknowledges their inclusion in the human family. This bill addresses that need. When we adequately provide such services, we are all enriched. This is why that commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments that contains a promise to those who keep it: "that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you."

We urge a Do Pass recommendation on Senate Bill 2028.