THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY McILHINNEY, RAFFERTY, FOLMER, VOGEL, FONTANA, WAUGH, FERLO, ALLOWAY, EARLL, SCARNATI, SOLOBAY, GORDNER, ARGALL, D. WHITE, KASUNIC, MENSCH AND BRUBAKER, MAY 10, 2011
REFERRED TO STATE GOVERNMENT, MAY 10, 2011
Providing for the English language as the official language of
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Official
Section 2. Purpose.
(a) Purpose.--It is the purpose of this act to preserve,
protect and strengthen the unifying role of English as the
official language of the Commonwealth. English has been this
nation's language by custom only and warrants special legal
(b) Rights preserved.--This act shall not be construed to
infringe on the rights of citizens, who have every right to
choose their own primary language, in the use of language for
private conduct, nor shall this act be used to dictate language
policies for the operation and administration of organizations
or businesses in the unregulated private sector.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Official acts of government." Any of the following:
(1) Actions of the Commonwealth and of its political
subdivisions that carry the full weight and authority of law.
(2) Official documents recorded and maintained by the
Commonwealth and its political subdivisions for the public
domain, including tax records, professional licenses, deeds,
real estate records, publicly probated wills and other
documents of the court systems and public proceedings of the
governing bodies of the Commonwealth and its political
Section 4. Designation of language of official acts.
English is recognized as the official language of the
Commonwealth and shall be designated as the language of official
acts of government.
Section 5. Policies.
The Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall make no
policies expressing a preference for any language other than
English or diminishing or ignoring the unifying role of English
as designated under this act, subject to the limitations under
Section 6. Enforcement.
(a) General rule.--Elected and appointed officers of the
Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall take all
reasonable steps to ensure that the role of English as the
official language is preserved and enhanced.
(b) Standing.--Any citizen of this Commonwealth shall have
standing to bring an action against the Commonwealth or any of
its political subdivisions to enforce this section.
Section 7. Limitations.
The provisions of this act shall not apply to the following:
(1) When Federal law imposes contrary provisions.
(2) When the public safety, health or justice requires
the use of other languages.
(3) Instruction in foreign language courses.
(4) Instruction designed to aid students with limited
English proficiency in their transition and integration into
the education system.
(5) The promotion of international commerce or tourism.
(6) The provision of interpretation for hearing impaired
individuals in American Sign Language.
Section 8. Appropriations.
The General Assembly and the governing bodies of its
political subdivisions shall make no appropriation to promote
the use of or demonstrate a preference for any language other
than the official language, subject to the limitations under
Section 20. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 90 days.