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Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lawmakers consider official language

February 13, 2007

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Tuesday, lawmakers debated a bill that would name English as the state's official language. Enlarge video

Tuesday, lawmakers debated a bill that would name English as the state's official language.

But the debate was not over whether most people in Kansas speak English. . . That's obvious. The question is whether that fact needs to be written in the law books.

"The bottom line is that English is going to be the official language of Kansas," stated Representative Candy Ruff, a Leavenworth Democrat.

"I'm not sure if it really accomplishes anything we're not trying to accomplish already," rebutted Rolla Republican, Representative Bill Light.

Supporters hope the bill will encourage non-native speakers to learn the language of the land.

Representative Mario Goico (D-Wichita) speaks English, as a second language.

"My education and learning English changed my life," he said.

But Light had a question for him.

"Did he need a state law to accomplish that?" Light asked.

Representative Dan Johnson believes the bill could have unintended consequences.

"I don't understand the need for the bill. I'm concerned about certain things," Johnson (R- Hays).

He's concerned about things like the state flag and the state seal. Both have a Latin phrase on them.

"That's part of the government, I think. Are we going to have to change those? I'm concerned," Johnson said.

The bill does make an exception for art.

And Rep. Raj Goyle (D-Wichita) says the these symbols of Kansas fall under that category.

He also supports the plan.

"This bill is a workable solution that will accomplish the most important goal, which is how can we have Kansans learn English as quickly and efficiently as possible?" he said.

Others are not sure this is the best answer to that question.

"Not everything in my opinion needs to be taken care of by a new statute or law," Rep. Eber Phelps (D-Hays) said.

Lawmakers did pass the bill out of committee. It will now go to the full House.

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