A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Kansas House approves bill to make English official state language

[JURIST] The Kansas House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill [text, PDF] making English the state's "official" language. The legislation passed 118-2, after it was amended to provide $500,000 to help adult immigrants learn English. It is expected to receive final approval on Wednesday and then move on to the state senate [official website] for consideration. If it passes, the legislation will make English the official language of Kansas, though local authorities would retain the flexibility to provide documentation in other languages. Similar "official English" laws have been adopted in at least 24 other US states [backgrounder], most recently in Arizona.

Critics such as Rep. Dale Swenson (R-Wichita) [official profile] complain that the entire Kansas act is nothing more than a distraction from larger issues such as health care. Rep. Tim Owens (R-Overland Park) [official profile] warned that the bill will send a "negative message" about the state. The Lawrence World-Journal has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.