State Senator Don Balfour's English only amendment
ATLANTA -- Georgia's legislature passed a law making English the official state language in 1996. But now a state lawmaker wants an amendment added to the state constitution, along with a provision that anyone doing business with the state will have to do it in English.
Among other things, Senate Resolution 1031 introduced by state Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) would eliminate state driver's license tests now offered in 11 foreign languages. He argues English is especially needed for drivers to make sure they understand highway signs.
"We do grow up in different cultures, but eventually to be productive in the U.S. culture, it's good to speak English," Balfour told 11Alive News on Tuesday.
"Well, here we go again," State Representative Pedro Morin (D-Duluth) told 11Alive.
After 12 years in the state legislature, Rep. Morin has fought the English-only movement several times. He believes the amendment will be bad for business in a city and state that claim to have an international reputation.
"This is business people that make Georgia their home and we're gonna say that, you know, you're not welcome," Morin said.
Balfour claims his amendment follows the practice of many foreign countries.
"If you're in Korea, I imagine you're gonna speak Korean to do business; well in America in order to business well in America, you probably need to speak English," he added.
His English-only amendment would not apply to private individuals or private business transactions, only to official state business.
Republicans control both the State House and Senate with a simple majority, but getting a two-thirds majority to put the amendment on the ballot could prove difficult.
Georgia is one of 28 states that now have English as their official language.