Official Language & National Popular Vote
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, April 1, 2016 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
An important bill that died this session was Senator McKoon’s S.R. 675 to designate English in the State Constitution as Georgia’s official language. Legally, it became the state official language in 1996 when Governor Zell Miller signed S.B. 519, but legislators have failed to put it in the Constitution.
The intent of S.B. 519 was to save the state money, but getting it passed 20 years ago was not easy. In 1996, Georgia’s tax booklet was being printed in five or more languages and fiscal conservatives wanted that to stop. English-only bills had been introduced four times as a cost-cutting way to operate government.
But consider the situation in Georgia today, when many government documents are printed in multiple languages. A prime example is the drivers’ license test, which is printed in eleven languages. That means, multiple interpreters must be employed to translate the test from English into those languages, then read and evaluate the completed tests.
If S.R. 675 had passed, English would have been used for local and state laws, ordinances, decrees, programs and policies, including drivers’ license tests, but local governments would have been authorized to use other languages in nine specific circumstances. Had S.R. 675 passed, voters could have decided the question in November.Every several years, a bill is introduced to change the way the U.S. President and Vice President are elected, and it happened again this year. Senator David Shafer had 47 cosponsors of his S.B. 376 and Representative Earl Ehrhart had 48 cosponsors of his H.B. 929. So, 97 of the 236 members in the Georgia General Assembly were willing to (a) bypass Congress, (b) skew the outcome of the Electoral College, and (c) change the time-tested way our most powerful national officials are elected.
Behind National Popular Vote Inc. is a co-founder of the company that invented the instant lottery ticket. The proposed NPV strategy allows densely populated areas to control the outcome of every presidential race. The plan is for states to allocate their electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes nation-wide, regardless of the popular vote in their states or whether the candidate qualified to be on their state’s ballot. As a result, someone could become president with as little as 25 percent of the popular vote, if several candidates ran for that office.
Currently, ten states and Washington, D.C. have passed NPV bills, giving the movement a total of 167 electoral votes, 61 percent of votes needed to change the system. Five states, including Georgia, are considering NPV legislation in 2016. If all five bills were to pass, the movement would collect 55 more electoral votes. However, they won’t get Georgia’s 16 votes THIS year, because both NPV bills died in committee. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.