English Bill Advances

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 11:34 am
By: News On 6

The state House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday that would make English the official state language.

News On 6 reporter Mary Joseph reports the bill sailed through the state House with 70 votes of support and 28 votes opposed.

Opposition to the bill said there was not enough time allocated for debate, but supporters argued there was plenty.

The bill would require all state agencies to conduct business in English only, meaning state documents, public signs, even driver's license tests would all be in English only.

Author of the bill, Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, said it costs more money than necessary to offer other language options on the above stated items.

"How much, we don't know," Terrill said. "But anecdotally, we know it is a significant amount of money."

Terrill's bill does have exceptions for Native American languages. But Calvin Rock, who is part of the Cherokee Nation, still opposes the bill.

"It was basically the Republican part of the House saying we are going to be mean-spirited," Rock said. "We are going to close this state and we are going to disrespect the Native American languages."

Rep. Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma City, who also opposed the English-only bill, believes the state Senate will also pass the bill. He hopes the fight goes from the statehouse to the courthouse.

"You saw the people who have the courage to stand up and vote no," Lindley said. "There wasn't as many. The hope is for people in the courtroom."

If the bill survives through the state Senate, Oklahoma residents would be given the chance to vote on the proposal because it would be a change to the State Constitution.