We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Committee Approves English Language Amendment; Olson Votes No

Senate Joint Resolution 2, which would put to a public vote a constitutional amendment making English the official language of South Dakota, squeaked out of the Senate State Affairs Committee on a 5–4 vote. SJR2 now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Voting aye: Republican Senators Rhoden, Abdallah, Knudson, and Gray, plus Democratic Senator Gary Hanson. Voting nay (nein, nyet and hiya): Dems Heidepriem and Turbak Berry and Republicans Dempster and (small fanfare) District 8's own Russell Olson. Not bad, Russ! Sounds like exactly the opposition to needless legislation you've promised us.


  1. So what's wrong with making English the OFFICIAL language of the US? Doesn't mean people can't speak other languages. Just that official business needs to be done in English, and if you are living here, immigrating here (legally) etc, you should learn English, same as my dad did when he immigrated. He didn't expect anything to be written in Danish just for the Danes that immigrated. Olson did NOT do the right thing here.

  2. I agree that business should be coducted in English. My grandparents learned English when they immigrated to the US.

  3. Yo hablo Espanol.

    Je parle Francais.

    Just repeat your demands in English and yell louder each time.

  4. If you have think offical business should in English is not important. Look at the text of the Resolution. It basically says that nothing can require the use of any language other than English.

    So basically the State wouldn't be able to have a docuement that was only available in Spanish. If it was only available in English, that's okay. If it was available in English, Spanish, French, and Russian, that's okay, as long as English is in the list.

    The resolution is pointless and makes no change to the Status Quo. It is a waste of time.

  5. I suspect it's over broad - unconstitutional. The first sentence is fine.

    The second sentence holds the potential problem. It could forbid policing jurisdictions, health care and emergency providers, social or educational agencies (to include sign language or braille translators), tourism and judicial agencies from hiring bilingual workers or translators or determining translators fluency or enforcing fluency standards for translators. If agencies, especially courts, are forbidden from using translators (or inquiring of translators qualifications) then it likely would lead to civil rights violations. It looks like the deaf or mute will have to "speak" English in school and at any government function. The state will not be able to require that teachers of the deaf or blind master "sign" or braille languages.

    Perhaps the third sentence, that the section not be construed to conflict with the constitution and federal law, may be a saving clause - but makes the amendment pointless and it's still questionable.

    This proposed amendment is unnecessarily hostile to the tourism and its promotion. (The state could not contract for language pertinent tourism materials or bilingual workers or contractors to market to foreigners.) This proposal ignores our proud history with languages - 100 years ago there were about 18 newspapers published in different languages IN South Dakota; there were primary and secondary schools conducted in various languages IN South Dakota.

    Having an official language is not the problem; being entirely exclusive to the needs of others is bigoted and probably unconstitutional.

  6. Anon 9:54: I like business being conducted here in English. I also like Dan Roemen having Milk Day on Monday. But there's no need to write either into the Constitution.

  7. I'm thinking it's a CYA move, just in case some group wants the State Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional... Can't be unconstitutional if it's in the state constitution, right?

  8. Apparently Russell Olson voted this way because he only heard from Native Americans who thought this was unfair to them, he never heard from anyone in favor of the bill. Maybe because that's no one knew it was even being considered.

    Native Americans were addressed in this resolution so that's a moot concern. BTW they use English as their official language anyway. Do they conduct business, talk in their homes, go to public schools without using English? I don't think so.

    There are many people who want English as the official language as one way to bind us all together. There are many ethnicities in this state and nation, and many languages spoken, but for official business, public schooling, etc it IS English that is used. That's not being racist or anything else. It is just how it is. And making this our official language, while allowing people to speak whatever they wish, would only be a way to unite our nation.

  9. Well, our Native neighbors knew it was being considered. The squeaky wheel that pays attention gets the grease!

    "unite our nation" -- would you explain to me the practical mechanism by which this Constitutional amendment will bring measurably more unity than we see now?

  10. That's cute, you actually put Russ in your blog in a positive way. Now, let's review...You posted this blog to do what? Stir up conversation on the amendment? Then, I really like how you squeak by a little bash on Olson for the useless legislature. Wait, wait, wait, if it is so useless than why did you waste your time to blog about it? Oh, wait to stir up conversation...Good thing you're doing that because then someone might do something like right an amendment and try to pass it in the senate...what useless legislation.

    Why call things useless if you are going to bother and write about them...oh wait it's because you wanted a sentence to bash Olson, whom you in fact agreed with on this topic. Sssssstrange

  11. Wait, wait, Anon 4:32, review the text: "...useless legislation." Care to reload?

    Nothing strange here. I posted this entry because (a) I approve of Olson's vote, (b) I want to spark conversation (mission succeeding) and (c) SJR 2 is still alive, still useless, and still in need of defeat... a position on which Sen. Olson appears to agree with me.

  12. If everyone used English for school, legal matters, instructions, etc etc etc, we just might feel a little more connected with one another regardless of heritage and more pride at being an American citizen. It's not a concrete thing that can be seen, and if you can't understand it, I can't make you.

    My dad was an immigrant at age 20. He taught himself English by reading, visiting, etc. It was important to him that he become a part of the American culture even before he became a proud citizen of this nation.

    English should be the official language. Nothing wrong with that.

  13. Just a thought about those fine citizens who created South Dakota and this current craziness.

    When those folks distributed copies of the our new state's constitution, way back in 1889, the legislature had them printed in several different languages. They did this to insure that all residents of our new state could read and understand their new constitution. Didn't see any english only then, just a concern that everyone could read the document.

    Think an official language is as bright an idea as the stimulus bill.

    Always said I have gotten so conservative that I am a liberal.

    Joseph G Thompson

  14. Thank goodness the body of the senate had wisdom greater than the committee - and killed this stupidly written bill. Under this bill the state (BOR) could not have required foreign language teachers to be competent in a language other than English or that a foreign language be taught in colleges (since it would have been a state rule).


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.