An amendment that would require Oklahoma to conduct all official business in the English language passed a state Senate committee Wednesday and will go to the House for approval, according to the lawmaker who authored it.
State Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, said the amendment to Senate Bill 163 passed by a vote of 11-5.
Terrill said the bill would go before the House in the next two weeks, then before the whole Senate. If passed by both houses, it could go before Gov. Brad Henry, Terrill said.
Terrill cited an imperative need for the bill, claiming the state is about to be sued to have Farsi, an Iranian language, used for drivers' license tests since Spanish is already being used.
"If you want to know where the slippery slope begins, well, it's here," Terrill said.
An Associated Press story claims that two Iranian Bartlesville residents are asking for the tests.
State Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, criticized the committee meeting that passed the amendment, saying that Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, was "gaveled down" during the hearing.
"The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation was not allowed to share his concerns about the legislation and was treated badly," said Coates. "I believe he should have been given the courtesy of expressing his views in what is supposed to be the people's house."
Smith said he found it very odd that he was not allowed to speak, but that public input was allowed later in that same committee on another bill. He also said he was offended that Terrill was attempting to use the "awesome power" of the state of Oklahoma to forcibly assimilate people.
"We've been trying to resist forced assimilation for centuries. It's probably one of the most patronizing and paternalistic insults that I've ever heard," Smith said. "What this has become is a badge and a brand of intolerance, mean-spiritedness, close-mindedness (and) cold-heartedness." -Ben Fenwick
More on the bill:Provision declaring English as state's 'official language' with Senate