A plan to make English the official government language in Missouri has run aground in the state Senate.
The proposed constitutional amendment says English will be the official language of public proceedings–and defines what they are. Sponsor Kevin Engler of Farmington says it does not prohibit speaking another language in the home or the business and it does not prohibit the use of interpreters.
But Senator Joan Bray of St. Louis sees no reason for the proposal. "What is it that the people have…said, ‘This is unacceptable?’" she asked during debate.
Senator Gary Nodler of Joplin, a supporter of the measure, says the amendment is needed to clarify which documents, in different languages, will be considered official in court proceedings. He called the measure a clear choice between "confusion and chaos or unity."
But Engler faced about 20 amendments, mostly hostile, and has put the bill to sleep. He says it probably will take an initiative petition to put the issue before voters.
Many lawmakers do not like lawmaking by petitiion. They complain that such laws bypass the legislative process that makes sure a measure is more likely to mean what its sponsors intended. Engler noted the Hancock spending limitation amendment followed the initiative course after the legislature did not approve a limitation bill. Numerous lawsuits have resulted in numerous court rulings clarifying what the amendment really does do.
(The measure was SCS/HJR7)