Posted on July 22, 2005

Bill Would Make English State’s Official Language

Mary Lolli, Cox News Service, July 6

HAMILTON — An Ohio House bill that calls for designating English as the official language of Ohio is expected to draw opposition from the state’s Hispanic population.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, said it’s exactly that opposition that underscores the need for a “common language.”

“It used to be that the top priority for immigrants here was to learn the English language so that they could function in the United States,” Combs said. “But we’ve coddled the Spanish-speaking community to the point where there is no motivation for learning our predominant language.

“What used to be known as a melting pot of immigrants who did whatever was necessary to fit into the American lifestyle has turned into a tossed salad of immigrants who want America to adapt to them rather than the other way around.”

The Ohio English Unity Act would require the use of English by state and local government entities in official actions and proceedings. It does not eliminate the use of a foreign language when necessary to protect or promote public health, safety or welfare or the rights of non-English speaking residents, such as the use of court interpreters.

Combs, who has been working on a draft of the bill for more than two months, said it was tragically ironic that in the midst of the legislation’s development community unrest surfaced in his home district of Hamilton, where a Hispanic man is accused of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old.

“Everyone speaking a common language would not have prevented the rape because that is a separate act that has nothing to do with race or culture,” Combs said. “But, it might have helped to quell some of the social unrest had the neighbors in that community been able to talk to each other.”