CINCINNATI (TDB) -- U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt signed up last week to cosponsor two bills that make English the nation's official language. One eliminates the Voting Rights Act requirement that some elections be bilingual. In areas with large Hispanic populations -- South Florida, for example -- there now are Spanish/English ballots. And also Creole for Haitians. But the measure, HR 769, would forbid the practice.
[UPDATE: Check out THIS take on language laws about Singapore. Clever satire, right?]
Schmidt became a co-sponsor March 8. She joined two other Ohioans, U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Oh-14, and Ralph Regula, R-Oh-16. The measure is called the "National Language Act of 2007" and more information is HERE. The measure has been referred to committee and probably won't go very far.
Schmidt also put her name on HR 997, another bill that make English official. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Oh-01, already was a co-sponsor. This bill specifically says the states and the District of Columbia must use English, and says anyone seeking naturalization as an American citizen will have to pass a test showing they can comprehend English. One of the requirements: "All citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English language text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the laws of the United States."
But that last clause is a doozy -- could it open the door to questioning potential citizens about the tax code? Imagine being tested about the IRS rules? They are written in English, but everybody knows they are nearly impenetrable for average Americans.
There are details about the measure HERE.
Schmidt is a conservative pro-life, pro-gun lawmaker whose district starts in Cincinnati and stretches east along the Ohio River to Scioto County. She may have opposition in the GOP primary from State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., an ultra-conservative from Cincinnati, and the bills to require English will play well in her district. Whether the measures become law or not, her decision to co-sponsor was a canny political move and shows that Schmidt -- a marathon runner -- is toughening up for a potential race with Brinkman.