April 1, 2016 Radio Commentary

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. Continue reading