Archive for the ‘Gumm Oklahoma Legislature 2008 Session’ Category

Making English our Official Language

April 14, 2008

The House General Government and Transportation Committees recently passed an important measure that would make English the official language of the State of Oklahoma. SB 163 is authored by Representative Randy Terrill (Moore), with the assistance of Representative George Faught (Muskogee), who proposed a similar measure last year.

There was strong debate over the bill; it passed in the committee by a vote of 11 to 5.

It is important to note that this proposal doesn’t mean people can’t learn or speak other languages; it simply means the official business of state government would have to be conducted in the English language.

The bill proposes to prevent the taxpayers from having to pay for services such as driver’s license tests in other languages. The argument is that if a person is unable to comprehend driver’s license tests, he/she probably poses a safety concern because he/she will be challenged to understand street signs, instructions from English-speaking police, etc. The passage of this bill would also allow taxpayers to avoid the cost of publishing state documents in other languages, or providing services in multiple languages by using translators.

The issue became of added importance after a recent complaint was filed against the Department of Public Safety. The complaint was filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and alleges that the department did not offer a graphics driver’s test to individuals whose native language was Farsi.

Approximately thirty other states have already taken similar steps to ensure that English is the official language.

Hopefully the passage of the bill will in some small way address the problem facing our society of the large number of people coming to the United States to access our prosperity, some of whom obviously having no intention of adapting to our culture or learning the English language.

Even though the bill purports to make exceptions for Native American languages, the bill is opposed by Native American groups. I think it is unfortunate, however, that the bill makes an exception for these languages, because I do not feel that the taxpayers should ever be saddled with paying for the cost associated with printing materials in any language other than English.

When Senate Bill 163 is sent to the full House, I will be sure to vote for it.

If the bill is approved by both the House and the Senate, the voters will have the final say on this issue, because it is a constitutional amendment. All constitutional amendments must be approved by the people; your opportunity to vote on the proposal would be in November of this year.

If you would like to provide your feedback on this matter, please feel free to visit and complete my 2008 Constituent Survey. I am asking House District 31 constituents to weigh in on this and a number of other issues. According to the most recent tally, 91% of respondents are in favor of making English our official language.

Could Be the Best of Times, the Worst of Times

January 22, 2008

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Hello again, everybody! As the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature nears, I am asked what it will be like. A simple question for which there is no simple answer.

This could be one of the best and most productive sessions in our state’s history. We have on the table visionary and hopeful proposals to make Oklahoma better for ourselves and generations yet unborn.

Bills have been filed that would make Oklahoma a healthier state, a better educated and more prosperous state, and a safer state. Proposals are out there that truly would change lives for the better.

Our greatest responsibility is to ensure our children have greater and better opportunities than we enjoyed. That responsibility has been met by every generation of Americans, and certainly Oklahoma is no different.

Every generation of Oklahomans has built a better future for those who followed. We have overcome natural disasters, financial collapses and challenges few other states have endured. We overcame and built the foundation for a better future. That test now falls to the 2008 session of the Legislature.

There is always the other side of the coin. This year’s session could just as easily be of the least fruitful sessions ever. With the rhetoric and venom being tossed between the two political parties, almost everyone is lowering expectations for this session.

An increasingly bitter partisan divide is on the table alongside visionary dreams and hopeful plans. This is an election year in which control of the Legislature is on the line, intensifying the natural and honest differences between the two political parties.

The rhetoric is at a fever pitch, and it is still two weeks before we return to the Capitol. It appears some are focusing on securing victory for a political party instead of capitalizing on opportunities to build a brighter future.

Elections are important; that is where we the people express our will about the direction of the state. Sadly, this year’s elections appear to be motivation for finger pointing and “gotcha” games. I have been working in public service for more than two decades and I have never seen as bitter partisanship as that which exists today.

Oklahomans expect us in the Legislature to keep the focus on proposals to improve the lives of the people we represent. For me, I have always worked with members of both political parties to enact policies that are good for all of Oklahoma.

It is far more important to enact good policies than to worry about who gets the credit or whose name comes first on the bill. Those things work out, because Oklahomans see through political smoke.

If the Legislature fails to focus on the future, then this session will be a failure. Oklahomans surely deserve better than that.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week and may God bless you all.