Pro-English voters should ask questions
By: D.A. King
A December 2015 Rosetta Stone poll showed that a bipartisan 76% of Georgians support making English Georgia’s constitutional official language. The idea is English as official, not “English only” as goes the portrayal by dishonest opponents.
Policy differences for candidates in the race for Georgia governor may not extend to allowing Georgia voters to decide if the state constitution should be amended to make English the official language of government.
According to an AJC report last week, Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams promised to oppose constitutional official English in the General Assembly as governor and boasted of fighting against allowing voters to answer a ballot question when she was in the legislature.
We thought it surprising that the AJC did not include a quote or position from Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp on the voter-popular issue, so Wednesday, October 3, this writer sent a policy question and request for a quote to the Kemp campaign.
“Do you support allowing Georgia voters to decide on a ballot question that would amend the state constitution to make English the official language of Georgia government and which would end current practice of offering the written road rules portion of the DDS drivers license exam in (eleven) foreign languages?
If so, will you use the power of the governor’s office to promote that cause for the 2020 election?”
We have not received a response from candidate Kemp. Curious voters should ask him.
All concerned should be aware that Georgia has a 1996 statute in place that makes English the official language, but also says officials can ignore that directive:
“State agencies, counties, municipal corporations, and political subdivisions of this state are authorized to use or to print official documents and forms in languages other than the official language, at the discretion of their governing authorities.”
The concept of allowing voters to have a voice on the matter is quite popular in the Georgia senate. Introduced by state Senator Josh McKoon, in 2016 SR 675 passed the Georgia senate with every Republican member voting “YEA,” But it was not allowed a vote on the House floor.
McKoon’s Resolution created a ballot question voters would have considered that year which read:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that English is the official language of the State of Georgia?”
All persons desiring to vote in favor of ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “Yes.”
All persons desiring to vote against ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “No.”
If such amendment shall be ratified as provided in said Paragraph of the Constitution, it shall become a part of the Constitution of this state.”
Most conservatives would like to have the chance to answer that question in November, 2020.
Readers who are not closely involved in Gold Dome politics are likely asking why they have not already been permitted to vote on making official English part of the state constitution. It helps to know that the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce are vehemently opposed to that idea.
It may also help to know that in metro-Atlanta’s DeKalb School District alone, administrators are dealing with students from 180 different countries who speak 140 different languages.
Without a constitutional mandate that English is the official language of government, readers can make their own predictions on how long it is before the angry marches in the streets begin with the demand that government in Georgia accommodate every imaginable language with the cry that “diversity is our strength.”
It seems like something a Republican candidate for Georgia governor would comment on. Comprende?
D.A. King of Marietta is president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society.