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Bill Proposes English as Official Language in County

Councilman Jerry Walker presented the bill, which is already being backed by a majority of the Anne Arundel County Council.

A councilman wants to make English the official language of Anne Arundel County, saying voters asked him for this.

While campaigning for his council seat, Councilman Jerry Walker (R-7th District) said illegal immigration was a hot topic among his constituents. The bill he presented to the council on Monday was in part the realization of a campaign promise, he said.

“There was overwhelmingly positive response [to that], so I turned it into a campaign commitment,” Walker said.

Bill 13-12 would make English the official language of Anne Arundel County for all official documents, communications and agreements on behalf of the county.

Walker said he has another resolution planned to address illegal immigration by penalizing business owners who hire illegal workers.

“It would permit the county to remove a business owner’s license if that business owner is found to have knowingly hired illegal immigrants,” Walker said.

Walker’s bill is backed by three other Republican members of the County Council, but Councilmen Jamie Benoit (D-4th District) and Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District) both said on Monday that they oppose the bill.

“I’m not a fan of it,” Trumbauer said. “I don’t see the need for it.”

Trumbauer added that even if the bill passed, it wouldn’t stop him from helping his constituents who don’t speak English as their primary language. He said he thought it was counterproductive to not engage with that community.

Benoit called the bill a “symbolic vote,” and said he expected some lively discussion when the public hearing for the bill occurs on March 5.

Walker’s sponsors are Dick Ladd (R-5th District), John Grasso (R-2nd District) and Derek Fink (R-3rd District).

Grasso was vocal about his support of the bill, saying that if immigrants wanted to participate in the county, they needed to learn English.

“Guess what? You came to America, and the official language is English, and you will blend with everybody else. We’re not going to change our world to suit you. You will learn to suit to the country,” Grasso said.

The council traditionally has seven members, but it is still missing one representative after former Councilman Daryl Jones’ 1st District seat was vacated by a new resolution passed in January, a few days before he was set to begin serving his sentence in federal prison for tax evasion.

However, Benoit said he was confident that by the time this bill will be voted on, they will have someone in the 1st District's seat.

The bill is set to go to public hearing at the council's March 5 meeting, where it will also face its first vote.

James Johnson February 18, 2012 at 07:45 PM
This bill is likely unconstitutional because 1) it is being supported for the purpose of discriminating on the basis of national origin (because the proponents have admitted that the purpose is to "send a message") 2) It is not narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest (because even if having everyone speak only English is a compelling state interest this is much better achieved by supporting English classes and ESOL). Now, the county is going to waste resources to pass an ineffective bill that they have to spend more money on defending in court. The only message that this sends is that they are a bunch of idiots that do not have the intelligence to make good public policy.
Ronald Grossman March 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Couldn't disagree more. All we are doing is watering down and bastardizing the English Language. When I come into your home I show respect by doing things your way. I am tired of learning other'c cultural issues when in my home. As a descendant of immigrants I know how hard my parents and grandparents worked to learn English. Why are we constantly kissing up to those that want it their way. God Bless America and the English Language. We are not a minority - just a silent majority starting to speak out against those that think it alright to give away our culture. Sign me a Viet Nam Veteran that expects respect in the country he fought for.
Ronald Grossman March 15, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Regardless of his hiring practices that appear to be perfectly legal I hope he does expect his employees to read and write english. It is his opinion - why are you attempting to supress his rights to freedom of expression by threatening his livelyhood? Talk about hatemongers - maybe you should try some medications for your personality disorder. It's a good thing we don't have to post pictures as i am sure you would have something negative to say about his color or looks as well.Try sticking to the facts.
Ronald Grossman March 15, 2012 at 12:08 PM
You may be right. When when English speaking Americans are losing jobs the backlash is against those that are different. One language would address enclaves where English is not accepted and would solve tons of current problems with documents and communications issues. Isn't it enough that we have to spend money on interpreters in court when illegals are allowed to get Driver's Licenses without speaking or writing English. If you can get a license you should need an interpreter in court. More wasted money to 'protect the rights' of those that want us to learn their language.
Ronald Grossman March 15, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The boarder issue is one of pure politics at it's worse. Mr. Obama specifically stated that is goal was to bring as many ptoential Democratic Voters into this country so as to make it virtually impossible for Republicans to win elections. Opening our boards has little to do with doing what's right as it is to doing what it takes to corrupt the system. Arizonia has a right to run Arizonia. Let the administration supply boarder crossing busses to take the illegals to Washington so that the present administration can deal with the problem. I believe that the bottom line is the need for more emphasis on legal immigration - not more illegal immigration. Why not set up english speaking schools on the board so that once you learn the language you can apply for citizenship and pay taxes?

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