Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Missouri House Approves Bill for "English Only" Driver's Exam

HR 167 now goes to the Missouri senate. This legislation seeks to eliminate the eleven printed language versions of the driver's exam, and the seven online language versions currently offered by Missouri, at an estimated savings to the tax payers of $53,000/ year.

The foreign languages currently catered to include Bosnian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

I guess our foreign guests who only speak Tagalog, Albanian, Thia, Burmese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Tajik, Dutch, Hebrew, French, Somali, Swedish, and Australian are simply out of luck. But, fortunately, the current provision to allow foreigners to hire interpreters at their own expense to take the license exam will remain.

Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, who sponsored the Missouri measure, said all drivers need to understand English to be able to read road signs and follow driving laws.

Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, said drivers should learn English as part of their transition to American culture. “Driving is a privilege, not a right,” Parkinson said. “Part of that privilege is to take the test in English.”

Opponents of the legislation trotted out the usual agitprop of "nativism, xenophobia, and bigotry," as if it's to be expected that one's chosen  host country should bend over backwards in order to accommodate whatever predilections are presented.

If signed into law, Missouri would join Oklahoma, Wyoming and Utah with an "English only" provision for taking the driver's license exam. Oklahoma pursued the English only law after an Iranian immigrant sued to have the exam administered in Farsi. Oklahoma was concerned that this could open a flood gate of lawsuits to force the tax payers to foot the bill for printing any number of different exams into the world's nearly 300 major languages.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights ruled in April 2010 that the Oklahoma case did not discriminate against the Iranian immigrant on the basis of national origin.
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