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West Virginia makes English its official language

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=15&u=/ap/20050412/ap_on_re_us/official_english W.Va. Makes English Its Official Language Tue Apr
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 12, 2005
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      http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=15&u=/ap/20050412/ap_on_re_us/official_english

      W.Va. Makes English Its Official Language

      Tue Apr 12, 9:55 AM ET

      By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press Writer

      CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two days after the end of the
      legislative session, state lawmakers are discovering
      something few were aware of: They voted to make
      English the official language of West Virginia.

      The language amendment was quietly inserted into a
      bill addressing the number of members that cities can
      appoint to boards of parks and recreation. Among
      mundane details about record-keeping, the amendment
      adds the provision that "English shall be the official
      language of the State of West Virginia."

      Senate Majority Whip Billy Wayne Bailey successfully
      offered that change to House Bill 2782 amid a flurry
      of bills moving back and forth between the House and
      Senate on Saturday, the last night of the 60-day
      legislative session.

      "I just told the members that the amendment clarifies
      the way in which documents are produced," Bailey, a
      Democrat, said Monday.

      House Majority Leader Rick Staton recommended that his
      chamber agree with the Senate's changes. But Staton,
      also a Democrat, said he was unaware of the substance
      of the amendment until asked about it by The
      Associated Press Monday evening.

      Efforts to make English the state's official language
      have been introduced annually since the late 1990s. A
      group called U.S. English has championed the cause.

      "I think it's wrong that's something like that was
      snuck into that bill in the last minute," said House
      Judiciary Chairman Jon Amores, who helped kill an
      earlier proposal to forbid any state or local agency
      from having to print documents in any language but
      English.

      A spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin could not
      immediately be reached for comment.

      Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American
      Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, said
      English-only laws are based on the false premise that
      immigrants will not learn English without government
      coercion.

      "And English-only laws do nothing constructive to
      increase English proficiency. They simply discriminate
      and punish those who have not yet learned English,"
      Schneider said.
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