Measure encourages learning, saves taxpayer money
The House Government Operations Committee today approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Tom Barrett establishing English as the official state language.
Barrett, of Potterville, said his legislation will encourage people who do not speak the language to learn English. He said Michigan will join 32 other states that have made English the official language.
“We aren’t prohibiting anyone from speaking other languages,” Barrett said. “We are doing this to encourage people to learn the language of the nation in which they live. It will help them better understand the workings of state and local governments.”
The bill also allows documents, publications, or other services to be offered in multiple languages if restricting the use of English violates federal law or has a negative effect on the health, welfare and safety of Michiganders.
Barrett said an additional benefit will be fewer taxpayer dollars spent for government publications.
“Currently state and local government agencies print documents and other literature in a variety of common languages, and this bill only requires the documents be provided in English,” Barrett said. “If a local government chooses to continue offering documents in a variety of languages, they are not prohibited from doing so.”
The bill also requires any document originally presented in a language other than English to be translated into English.
The bill now goes before the House for consideration.