Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ENGLISH to Become Washington State's Official Language?

I realize this is a very controversial issue, but let it be known that our legislators are trying to make English Washington's official language. What does that mean? In effect, it means that any and all government agency documents need only be produced in English.

Before you start your comments that this is America, we speak English here, please put yourself in the place of a recent immigrant, one of many hundreds of thousands, in a country where English is *not* spoken. Language learning requires much time--many years, for some--but in the meantime should you be cut off from services?

Think about that.

The entire bill language follows.



State of Washington 61st Legislature 2009 Regular Session

By Representatives McCune and Haler

1 AN ACT Relating to designating English as the official language of

2 the state; and adding a new section to chapter 1.20 RCW.


4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 1.20 RCW

5 to read as follows:

6 (1) English is designated as the official language of the state of

7 Washington.

8 (2) The official language is designated as the language of any

9 official public record and any official public meeting.

10 (a) An official public record is any record officially compiled,

11 published, or recorded by the state and any other document or record

12 subject to public inspection and copying under the public records act,

13 chapter 42.56 RCW.

14 (b) An official public meeting is any meeting required to be open

15 under chapter 42.30 RCW.

16 (3) Except as otherwise provided by law, no state agency or

17 political or taxing subdivision of the state may be required to provide

18 any documents, information, literature, or other written materials in

19 any language other than English. Nothing prohibits state agencies or

p. 1 HB 1645

1 political or taxing subdivisions from: (a) Publishing any official

2 public document or record in languages other than English at their

3 discretion, so long as the document or record is also published in

4 English; or (b) permitting a person who does not speak English to speak

5 or communicate at an official public meeting with the assistance of an

6 interpreter.

7 (4) This section shall not be construed in any way to infringe upon

8 the rights of citizens under the Washington state Constitution or the

9 United States Constitution in the use of language in any private

10 activity. No agency or officer of the state or any political or taxing

11 subdivision of the state may place any restrictions or requirements

12 regarding language usage in any business operating in the private

13 sector other than official documents, forms, submissions, or other

14 communications directed to government agencies and officers, which

15 communications shall be in the official language as recognized in this

16 section.

17 (5) The state of Washington recognizes the importance of

18 establishing and actively promoting English language classes, English

19 language training, or citizenship classes for nonnative speakers. The

20 institutions of higher education and community and technical colleges

21 are encouraged to offer such services and are encouraged to seek the

22 assistance of local political subdivisions, community-based agencies

23 and organizations, migrant worker groups, refugee resettlement

24 programs, schools, churches, and others in making nonnative speakers

25 aware of the availability of such classes and training and ensuring

26 their continuation and expansion.

27 NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. If any provision of this act or its

28 application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the

29 remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other

30 persons or circumstances is not affected.


  1. Nashville Rejects English-Only Measure

    Nashville, Tennessee, voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have forced the local government to conduct its business in English only. The measure would have amended the city-county charter to require that all meetings and communications be held in English, although it would have allowed the city council to make exceptions "to protect public health and safety." Voters rejected the measure by nearly 10,000 votes in the largest turnout for a special election in more than a decade. Many business and government leaders were relieved that the measure failed. "One of my great concerns about this was the message it would send—one that took down the 'welcome' sign and put up a 'go away' sign," says business owner Tom Oreck, Chairman of Nashville-based Oreck Corporation. The measure was opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Bureau, church leaders, and Mayor Karl Dean. Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's John Butler notes that 206 foreign-owned companies operate in the Nashville area, providing about 34,000 jobs. He says many of the companies are Japanese and German auto parts firms that supply local car manufacturers.
    Return to Headlines

    From "Nashville Business and City Leaders Cheer Defeat of 'English Only' Measure"
    Los Angeles Times (CA) (01/23/09) Fausset, Richard

  2. It is amazing that months after we show the world that the US is culturally tolerant by electing a black man, we see this in our country. I can understand a small unsophisticated city pushing for "English only" but Washington. Shame on Washington for even going there in the first place. There is absolutely no benefit to this type of law. Washington legislatures assimilate your citizens, don't alienate them.


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