Local Rep wants Ohio English only
Jon Craig reports from Columbus:
A Green Township Republican Tuesday introduced a bill to make English the state’s official language.
Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, who was appointed to the Ohio House in October, is being challenged in the March 4 primary election by Dick Hammersmith, a conservative political consultant.
“I think it’s a real good bill,’’ Mecklenborg said, noting it has the support of House Speaker Jon Husted. “The passage of this bill will ensure that. . .in order for (Ohio’s) actions, laws and business to be considered authoritative and legal, they must be communicated in the English language.”
House Bill 477 is similar to a bill introduced in March 2006 by State Rep. Courtney Combs, a Republican from Hamilton. That bill died without any votes taken in the last legislative session.without action in the State Government Committee.
Mecklenborg’s bill requires use of the English language by all state and local government entities in official actions and proceedings. The legislation is not meant to infringe on each Ohioan’s right to choose their primary language for personal communication, he said.
Public state and local entities would be bound by the new law. Private organizations, companies and individuals would not be affected.
Under Mecklenborg’s bill, state and local agencies would be required to create an additional line item in their budgets to demonstrate the amount of funds used for providing services in languages other than English and how they spent those funds.
“This bill also has an important symbolic function because it sends a clear and concise signal to all those who want to participate in our state as citizens that there are responsibilities, as well as benefits,” Mecklenborg said in a statement. “Recognition that English is the official language of the state is such a responsibility.’’
“Our immigrant forefathers were expected to learn English and our expectations for this generation of immigrants should be the same. Also I believe that immigrants are far more likely to succeed economically and be more productive and involved citizens when they know and understand the English language,” he said.
There are several exceptions in the bill, including exemptions to comply with federal law or to promote public health and safety.