Thursday, February 21, 2008

Georgia House Committee Approves Official English Bill

2/19/08 PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Georgia House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee voted this afternoon to approve legislation that would strengthen the state's official English law as enacted in 1996. H.B. 413 proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would declare English the state's official language and require the overwhelming majority of state activities be conducted in English, with exceptions for areas such as public health, judicial proceedings, and foreign language instruction. The measure, which passed by a margin of 10-4, provides that final approval of the statute be conducted through a general ballot initiative.

"As Georgia deals with the task of assimilating a significant number of non-English speakers, continuing the recent pattern of unfettered government translation is a recipe for trouble," said Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of U.S. English, Inc. "If the state is serious about getting new immigrants to learn English and into the mainstream, it must resurrect the past tradition of promoting English learning by doing business in English. That is the expectation of Georgians and it should be the expectation of government agencies in Georgia."

A July 2007 survey of 625 registered voters in Georgia found that 71 percent favor amending the state Constitution to make English the official language of the state. The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. poll found strong support for the measure across all regions of Georgia and among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

If H.R. 413 is passed by the full House and Senate, Georgia would become the second state to feature a November ballot measure to strengthen an existing official English law. Last May, the Missouri legislature approved a joint resolution to make English the official language of all government proceedings, with voters getting the ultimate say in November 2008. State ballot measures proposing or strengthening official English laws have always been approved the voters, most recently in Arizona in 2006 when voters approved a new official English law by a margin of 3-1.

U.S. English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa, U.S. English, Inc. now has more than 1.8 million members nationwide.
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