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Governor’s Signature Makes English the Official Language of Kansas

May 11, 2007
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed legislation today to make English the official language of Kansas. The measure, H.B. 2140, passed the House, 114-7 and the Senate, 32-8 earlier this year.

“I want to applaud Gov. Sebelius and Representatives Mario Goico, Candy Ruff, and Don Myers for their efforts in passing this bill,” said Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of the Board of U.S. English, Inc. “English-speaking Kansans deserve to know that their tax dollars will not continue to perpetuate unfettered government translations. Newcomers to Kansas deserve opportunities to learn the English language and assimilate into our nation. This law benefits both natives and newcomers to the Sunflower State.”

As passed by the House and Senate, H.B. 2140 would make English the official language of Kansas. Under the legislation, state agencies would not be required to conduct business and provide documents in languages other than English, except where necessary to comply with federal law, protect public safety, and maintain Constitutional rights.

Kansas becomes the 30th state overall, and the third in seven months, to enact English as its official language, following Idaho in March and Arizona last November. The seven month span marks the shortest amount of time for three new states to adopt official English legislation since Montana, South Dakota and New Hampshire approved similar laws over three months in 1995.

“Making English the official language is not some stop-gap measure designed to thwart immigration,” continued Mujica, who immigrated from Chile in 1965. “It is a long term policy that takes into account that our nation functions best when we can all communicate in the same language, and that government must promote English learning for all Americans.”

Polls have shown enthusiastic support for official English among all segments of the population. A June 2006 poll from Rasmussen Reports found that 85 percent of Americans favor making English the official language of the United States, while a Oct. 2006 survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found support for a state law among nearly eight-in-ten Kansans. Most recently, a survey by the Harvard University Institute of Politics found that 72 percent of 18-24 year old Americans support making English the official language of the United States.

Strong support for official English has also been demonstrated at the state and federal levels, raising the possibility for a 31st state before the end of the year. More than 20 states had official English legislation introduced in the state legislature this year, and measures are still pending in several active chambers, including Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin. At the federal level, H.R. 997, the English Language Unity Act, has the support of more than 100 Representatives, making it one of the most widely supported bills in the 110th Congress.

“While Americans continue to search for that elusive solution to our immigration problem, they are more united than ever toward a focus on assimilation,” added Mujica. “Americans do not want to live in an ‘English-only’ nation, but they also oppose the creation of an ‘English-optional’ nation. I hope that more states will follow the lead of Kansas and provide the combination of beneficial government policy and increased English language learning funding.”

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