GOP introduces bill to make English Minnesota’s official language

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Among the first bills introduced in the Minnesota House this session is one aimed at establishing English as the official language of the state. Republican Reps. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, David Hancock of Bemidji, Sondra Erickson of Princeton, and Roger Crawford of Mora introduced the bill on Monday.

HF 64 would make English the official language of Minnesota: “No law, ordinance, order, program, or policy of this state or any of its political subdivisions, shall require the use of any language other than English for any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications, except as provided in subdivision 3.”

The bill is nearly identical to previous bills that have been proposed under a DFL-controlled legislature.

Exceptions to the English-only rule include teaching languages other than English in educational settings; complying with the Native American Languages Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; promoting trade, commerce, and tourism; and promoting state or agency mottos.

Minnesota’s state motto is in French: L’Etoile du nord.

The English-only issue came to a head last summer when Lino Lakes, St. Paul suburb, passed an English-only ordinance at the urging of an extreme anti-immigration activist.

Rep. Drazkowski is the lead author of the bill and has introduced similar versions in the past. In 2009, former Rep. Cy Thao of St. Paul challenged Drazkowski to a spelling contest in English. Thao, who is Laotian-born Hmong, said if he lost the contest, he’d vote for Drazkowski’s bill.