W. Va. makes English official language
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Apr 13 12:52:49 UTC 2005
Oops! W. Va. makes English official language
Lawmakers unaware that last-minute change sets state tongue
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:18 a.m. ET April 12, 2005
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Two days after the end of the legislative session,
state lawmakers are discovering something few were aware of: They voted to
make English the official language of West Virginia. The language
amendment was quietly inserted into a bill addressing the number of
members that cities can appoint to boards of parks and recreation. Among
mundane details about record-keeping, the amendment adds the provision
that English shall be the official language of the State of West Virginia.
Senate Majority Whip Billy Wayne Bailey successfully offered that change
to House Bill 2782 amid a flurry of bills moving back and forth between
the House and Senate on Saturday, the last night of the 60-day legislative
session. I just told the members that the amendment clarifies the way in
which documents are produced, Bailey, a Democrat, said Monday.
House Majority Leader Rick Staton recommended that his chamber agree with
the Senates changes. But Staton, also a Democrat, said he was unaware of
the substance of the amendment until asked about it by the Associated
Press Monday evening. Efforts to make English the states official language
have been introduced annually since the late 1990s. A group called U.S.
English has championed the cause.
I think its wrong thats something like that was snuck into that bill in
the last minute, said House Judiciary Chairman Jon Amores, who helped kill
an earlier proposal to forbid any state or local agency from having to
print documents in any language but English. A spokeswoman for Gov. Joe
Manchin could not immediately be reached for comment.
Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
of West Virginia, said English-only laws are based on the false premise
that immigrants will not learn English without government coercion. And
English-only laws do nothing constructive to increase English proficiency.
They simply discriminate and punish those who have not yet learned
English, Schneider said.
2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 2005 MSNBC.com
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