Panel passes bill to
make English official language
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
Feb. 11, 2005
PHOENIX - The House
Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to
declare English the state's official
The prime sponsor of the
legislation, Rep. Russell Pearce,
R-Mesa, said the use of Spanish and
other languages damages national unity.
Pearce's bill won support
from the Republican-dominated committee
in a 6-3 party-line vote.
"In the name of
diversity, we continue to promote and
encourage people to speak other
languages," Pearce said, comparing the
practice to spoiling a child by
providing a car, an allowance and a
place to stay. "Pretty soon, if you're
good enough to him there's no need for
them to go get a job.
"If you're going to
encourage people not to learn English
and provide crutches for them, then you
continue to damage what brings us all
together as a nation. We're Americans.
We speak English."
HCR 2030 would require
all "official actions" of government to
be conducted in English. That includes
anything done on behalf of state or
local government that binds or commits
the government or "appears to present
the views, position or imprimatur" of
Exceptions are provided
to comply with federal law, teaching
other languages, encouraging
international trade, protecting the
rights of crime victims and anything
that protects public health and safety.
It also would permit
"informal and nonbinding"
That provision appears
designed to resolve problems with a
similar constitutional amendment
approved by voters in 1988. That
amendment was subsequently struck down
after courts said it would interfere
with the ability of lawmakers and others
to communicate with the public.
Pearce said the intent is
to stop government "from encouraging
multiculturist kinds of attitudes by
giving out crutches."
He said places like
Canada, Malaysia and France with
multicultural societies "have tension
and clashes and civil wars that are
Rep. Ben Miranda,
D-Phoenix, said people want to learn
English and suggested that Pearce's bill
include a requirement that the state
provide adequate funding for programs to
Pearce rejected the
suggestion, noting that he believes
enough already is being spent.
The last word, though,
will likely come from the courts. A
federal judge has ordered Arizona to
invest more money into public education
to teach English to students from homes
where it is not the main language.
The measure now goes to
the full House. If adopted, voters who
would have to approve the change in the
The 1988 version was
approved by a margin of less than 1