Oklahoma: Ballot to have English as the official language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri May 15 16:35:45 UTC 2009

Ballot to have English as the official language

The citizens of Oklahoma will have the opportunity to make English the
official language of their state government following final House
passage of legislation today. “As our common language, English and the
‘melting pot’ process it makes possible has made the United States the
most successful multi-ethnic nation in history,” said state Rep. Randy
Terrill, R-Moore. “This legislation will reinforce our nation’s unity
and help end the drift toward linguistic Balkanization.”

House Joint Resolution 1042, by Terrill and State Sen. Anthony Sykes,
recognizes that English is Oklahoma’s common and unifying language,
and declares that all official actions of the state must be conducted
in English. It also bars individuals from suing the state to have
services provided in languages other than English. Under the
provisions of the legislation, private individuals and businesses will
still be allowed to use whatever language they choose. Only official
government business would be affected.

The bill also contains specific provisions protecting the “use, study,
development, or encouragement” of any Native American language,
including the languages used by Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized
Native American tribes. “Making English the official language of state
government is both wise policy and cost-effective,” said Sykes,
R-Moore. “Oklahoma taxpayers should not have to pay to print
government materials in up to 300 languages or be required to pay
interpreters. This legislation will prevent that kind of waste of
taxpayer funds.”

“Our government should encourage immigrants to assimilate so they can
pursue the American dream, and this legislation encourages that
process,” said state Rep. George Faught, a Muskogee Republican and
co-author of the bill. “We need to encourage legal immigrants to join
mainstream American society and not live in linguistic isolation.”
“This is a common-sense idea whose time has come,” said state Rep.
Mike Christian, an Oklahoma City Republican who also co-authored the
bill. “There is no compelling reason for the state to waste money
printing documents or manuals in languages seldom or never used in

ProEnglish and English First have endorsed the revised version of
House Joint Resolution 1042. In a joint written statement, ProEnglish
Executive Director K.C. McAlpin and English First Director of
Government Relations Aloysius Hogan said the legislation “will make a
lasting contribution to the unity and well being of Oklahoma.” U.S.
English also endorsed the bill. In a written statement, U.S. English
Chairman Mauro E. Mujica said, “When approved by voters in 2010 and
added to the state constitution, this measure will be one of the very
best official English laws in the nation.”

House Joint Resolution 1042 achieved final passage in the Oklahoma
House of Representatives today on an 89-8 vote. The proposal now goes
to the ballot where voters will decide the issue in 2010. According to
a recent poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com, 86 percent of Oklahomans
support making English the official language of state government.
Thirty other states have already adopted official English laws as have
more than 50 nations around the globe.

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