Language should be English, lawmakers sayThe official language of the state of Wisconsin will be English if some lawmakers get their way.
By: By BRADY BAUTCH/Forum Communications, The Daily Telegram
The official language of the state of Wisconsin will be English if some lawmakers get their way. The group has introduced Assembly Bill 289, which would put the force of law behind the initiative.
The primary author of the bill is longtime Democratic lawmaker Rep. Marlin Schneider, Wisconsin Rapids, who says the bill isn’t anti-immigrant, but is intended to bring people together.
“A common language is the most essential element in holding a society together,” said Schneider. “Without a common language, there is the threat of turmoil and anarchy. There is also the threat of those who don’t speak the society’s language of not being able to fully participate in the society,” he added.
One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Alan Lasee, R-De Pere, says he is supporting it because it makes sense and would make business a lot easier for government agencies, especially law enforcement, to have one language.
He noted that on a trip he took to a Division of Motor Vehicles office in Green Bay, he saw license information in about a half-dozen languages.
“How do you observe and read highway signs if you can’t read the language?” Lasee asked.
The bill recognizes that other languages are a part of the state’s culture and does not prevent anyone from using another language.
State employees could also use another language when they are not on the job. But the bill would require that all written documents in the state be written in English unless another law requires otherwise.
“I really believe in my heart that when this country was founded and people came from all over, English was the language, and everyone learned it,” Lasee said.
Schneider said he is concerned because, like other states, Wisconsin is seeing a large influx of illegal immigrants who have no desire to learn the nation’s cultural language, which he says is English.
This, he says, can have a very substantial impact on society.
“It makes it very hard when people can’t understand each other. It leaves them vulnerable,” Schneider said.
As an example, he said that if a contract is in one language and the individual signing it can’t read that language, they could be taken advantage of.
Lasee noted that so far, the legislation has received a cool reception in Madison.