Should English be official language of Oregon?

Rep Mike Nearman_thb

by Rep. Mike Nearman

The idea seems pretty clear to me. I don’t want to cause any trouble. I just want to put the question to the voters, “Do you want English to be the official language of the State of Oregon?”

I’m one of the chief sponsors of an initiative petition, sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), to do just that.

It’s not as if this is unusual. Currently 31 states have English as their official language – including California and Idaho. 

There are 138 languages spoken in Oregon and if you want to be successful – however you define successful for yourself – you should probably learn to speak English. Furthermore, it’s expensive and inefficient for the state to have to operate in multiple languages. So, let’s get out the clipboards, start collecting signatures and have a vote on it.

Not so fast.

As you know, the Attorney General (AG) creates a ballot title for each initiative. Citizens of Oregon who expect fairness should be outraged at the ballot title received from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for the initiative to make English the official language of the State of Oregon:

“Changes state/”subdivision” (undefined) laws regarding English/other-language use and requirements; exceptions; authorizes lawsuits”

It doesn’t seem possible to come up with a less clear explanation of “English is the official language of the State of Oregon”. Apparently, English is not the official language of the AG’s legal department. What is clear is that the government of one party rule has no intention of letting this idea have its day and get a fair shot with voters. That’s too bad.

The next step is for OFIR to appeal the ballot title to the Oregon Supreme Court, where one hopes the AG’s title will fail to pass the laugh test. If not, the same outrage should be directed at the members of the Court. Remember, these people all serve in elected offices, and many were originally appointed by the governor. You might want to hold them accountable.

The good news is that Oregonians for Immigration Reform is considering having a contest to see who can come up with the most emoticons or smileys derived solely from the characters used in AG Rosenblum’s ballot title. 🙂 Have a nice day.

State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is a board member with OFIR and speaks English well enough to write a halfway-decent ballot title. He can be reached at [email protected].