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English-Only Bill Rejected

April 15, 1996
By: Michelle Mulligan and Claudia Gabarain
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The campaign to make English the official language in Missouri ran into a roadblock in Missouri's legislature.

After overwhelmingly passing the House earlier this year, legislation to declare English the state's official language was defeated Monday (April 15) by the Senate Financial and Governmental Operations committee on a 3-5 vote.

The bill's sponsor - Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau - said he was not discouraged by the committee's decision and was hoping the committee would reconsider it's decision.

Indeed, the committee's rejection of the bill may not be the final word on the issue this session.

Sen. Ronnie DePasco, D-Kansas City, said he and other senators who voted against the bill would support a cooperative effort with opponents and proponents to change the wording of the bill.

"We have some compromising language to put in that bill to make it more workable for everyone," he said.

Sen. Edward Quick, D-Liberty, the chairman of the committee, said the true problem with the bill is both sides' perception of it.

"The people that are opposed to it perceive it as a very racial issue," he said. " The people that are supporting it see it as a thing that needs to be done to push people into the language.

"They don't realize that if you're smart enough to come to this country, you are smart enough to know you need English to get ahead."

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