[JURIST] The Kansas House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill [text, PDF] making English the state's "official" language. The legislation passed 118-2, after it was amended to provide $500,000 to help adult immigrants learn English. It is expected to receive final approval on Wednesday and then move on to the state senate [official website] for consideration. If it passes, the legislation will make English the official language of Kansas, though local authorities would retain the flexibility to provide documentation in other languages. Similar "official English" laws have been adopted in at least 24 other US states [backgrounder], most recently in Arizona.
Critics such as Rep. Dale Swenson (R-Wichita) [official profile] complain that the entire Kansas act is nothing more than a distraction from larger issues such as health care. Rep. Tim Owens (R-Overland Park) [official profile] warned that the bill will send a "negative message" about the state. The Lawrence World-Journal has more.