Proposal urges state to use only English
Denver Post
April 19, 2006

By Jim Hughes  Staff Writer

Rep. David Schulthe is wants the state, schools and libraries to stop doing business in Spanish.

A lawmaker who wants the state to stop doing business in Spanish is asking the Colorado legislature to put an English- only proposal before voters in November.

Rep. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, said Tuesday the state shouldn't require bilingual skills for its workers or publish information in Spanish.

According to a draft of a concurrent resolution Schultheis is sponsoring, he also wants to bar public libraries from "purchasing any printed or electronic documents, publications or other materials in a language other than English." Textbooks would be exempt.

The resolution also would bar school districts from requiring instruction in languages other than English. Concurrent resolutions require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to get on to the ballot.

People who don't know English need to learn it, Schultheis said. By presenting them with information in Spanish, the state government is taking away their incentive to learn, he said.

Schultheis - a leading hard- liner on illegal immigration - said he doesn't think his English requirement would harm anyone. "Most of these people already know many people who know English as well, and can have their interpreters come (when they visit state offices)," he said.

Immigrant advocate Lisa Duran said she thought Schultheis' proposal would violate a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision addressing a dispute over Chinese-language instruction in a California school district.

Schultheis' resolution would exempt anything required by the federal government or the Constitution from the proposed foreign-language ban.

Still, Duran accused Schul theis of failing to understand the diversity of people who have dealings with state offices. Some who are U.S. citizens prefer to do business in their native tongues, she said.

"The assumption that just because someone speaks a different language that they're somehow taking some kind of advantage of our society is absurd on its face," she said.

But Fred Elbel, co-director of Defend Colorado Now, which backs a ballot measure to limit state services for illegal immigrants, welcomed Schultheis' proposal. Defend Colorado Now raised more than $82,000 this winter for the immigrant-services measure it backs, according to its latest quarterly report to the state.

More than $42,000 of that came from a Michigan foundation headed by John Tanton, a controversial leader of the immigration-reform movement.