H. B. 3254
(By Delegate Louisos)
[Introduced March 25, 2005; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new section, designated §2-2-13, relating to
designating English as the official state language.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new section, designated §2-2-13, to read as
ARTICLE 2. LEGAL HOLIDAYS; SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAYS; CONSTRUCTION
OF STATUTES; DEFINITIONS.
§2-2-13. Official state language.
(a) The common language is recognized to be English, and the
common language is designated as the language of official public
documents and records and official public meetings.
(b) Official documents and records are all documents
officially compiled, published, or recorded by the state including deeds, publicly probated wills, records of births, deaths and
marriages, and all other public records as defined in section two,
article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code; and official
public meetings are those meetings and proceedings required to be
open to the public pursuant to section three, article nine-a,
chapter six of this code.
(c) The provisions of this article do not apply:
(1) To instruction in foreign language courses;
(2) To instruction designed to aid students with limited
English proficiency in a timely transition and integration into the
general education system;
(3) To the promotion of international commerce, tourism, and
(4) When considered to interfere with needs of the justice
(5) When the public safety, health or emergency services
require the use of other languages: Provided, That any
authorization for other use of languages other than the common
language in printing informational materials or publications for
general distribution must be approved in an official public meeting
by the governing board or authority of the relevant state or
municipal entity and the decision must be recorded in minutes which
are made available as public records;
(6) When expert testimony, witnesses or speakers may require a language other than the common language: Provided, That for
purposes of deliberation, decision making or record keeping, the
official version of the testimony or commentary shall be the
officially translated English language version.
(d) Pursuant to the exemptions outlined in subdivision (3),
subsection (a) through (f) of this section, all costs relating to
the preparation, translation, printing and recording of documents,
records, brochures, pamphlets, flyers or other informational
materials in languages other than the common language must be
delineated as a separate budget line item in the agency,
departmental or office budget.
(e) No person shall be denied employment with the state or any
constituent entities or municipalities based solely upon that
person's lack of facility in a foreign language, except where
related to a bona fide job need reflected in the exemptions in
subdivision (3), subsection (a) through (f) of this section.
(f) This article shall not be construed in any way to infringe
upon the rights of citizens under the State Constitution or the
Constitution of the United States in the use of language in private
activities. No agency or officer of the state nor any constituent
entities or municipalities may place any restrictions or
requirements regarding language usage in businesses operating in
the private sector other than official documents, forms,
submissions or other communications directed to government agencies officers, which communications shall be in the common language as
recognized in this article.
(g) Right of action. -- Any citizen of the state has standing
to bring an action against the state to enforce this section. The
state courts have jurisdiction to hear and decide any action
brought under this subsection.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to designate English as the
official state language.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.