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Lawmakers argue over House bill to make English Michigan’s official language

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League
Michigan Legislature at the State Capitol building.

There was a fierce debate today leading up to a state House vote to adopt English as Michigan’s official language. The bill cleared the House on a mostly party-line vote.

Republicans say it would reflect what’s already the practice in state government.

State Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, said the bill is a waste of time.

“We have roads to fix, schools to improve, mental health services to fix," she said. "Any reasonable observer would conclude this bill is only meant to be inflammatory and divisive."

But Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, said his bill would simply allow Michigan to join 32 other states that have declared English their official language.

“So many people are afraid to acknowledge or ask questions of one another today because we are hyper-offended society," he said. "Having a common language allows us to talk to one another, learn from one another, and learn about those differences and different experiences that we’ve had.”

The bill would still allow the state and local governments to communicate in other languages. The bill cleared the House on a largely party-line vote and now heads to the Senate.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.