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Oklahoma Voters to Get Decision on Official English

House Approval of Ballot Measure Gives Voters Ultimate Say in Nov. 2010

May 6, 2009

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 89-8 today on a measure that provides for a public referendum on whether to make English the official language of the state. The initiative, H.J.R. 1042, passed the Senate 44-2 last month and will now appear on the general election ballot in November 2010.

“Oklahoma’s legislators have stood up and put the government’s accent on our common language of English,” said Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of U.S. English, Inc. “This is a well-written measure that will return state government to its rightful role of promoting English acquisition by doing the overwhelming majority of business in English. Rep. Randy Terrill and Speaker of the House Chris Benge deserve kudos for combining beneficial public policy with skillful negotiation to ensure final passage.”

As passed by the House and Senate, the measure makes English the official language of the state. The initiative would require that official actions be conducted in English, and will declare that the state cannot be forced to provide multilingual services, except where mandated by federal law. The measure also recognizes the state’s diversity by protecting the use, study and development of Native American languages.

The Oklahoma initiative will mark the tenth time that an official English referendum has been placed on a statewide ballot. Voters have approved all nine prior measures, most recently in Missouri with 86 percent of the vote in 2008, and in Arizona with 74 percent of the vote in 2006. Other states to make English the official language by popular referendum include Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida and Utah. If approved by the voters, Oklahoma would become the 31st state to make English its official language.

“I want to thank the members of the House and Senate for following the will of Oklahomans and approving this measure,” continued Mujica. “I look forward to a spirited debate over the next 18 months and resounding voter approval of the initiative in Nov. 2010.”

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