Senate Bill No. 473
(By Senators Bowman, Edgell and McKenzie)
[Introduced February 14, 2000; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend article two, chapter two of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended,
by adding thereto a new section, designated section
thirteen, relating to designating English as the official
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article two, chapter two of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new section, designated section thirteen, to
read as follows:
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 shall 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 system;
(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 shall have
standing to bring an action against the state to enforce this
article. The state courts shall 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.