AN ACT

 

1Providing for the English language as the official language of
2the Commonwealth; and imposing a certain restriction on use
3of appropriated funds.

4The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
5hereby enacts as follows:

6Section 1. Short title.

7This act shall be known and may be cited as the Official
8Language Act.

9Section 2. Legislative findings.

10The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:

11(1) The people of the United States have brought to this
12nation the cultural heritage of many nations.

13(2) The people of the United States, despite their many
14differences, have lived together harmoniously and
15productively as citizens of one nation.

16(3) The traditional and common language of the United
17States and of this Commonwealth is English.

1(4) A knowledge of the common language is essential to
2full exercise of constitutional freedoms, informed and
3knowledgeable empowerment as voters, citizen checks against
4government abuses and individual prosperity and independence.

5(5) The English language has been our strongest bond to
6one another as fellow citizens and has contributed
7substantially to national unity and societal cohesiveness.

8(6) English has been this nation's language by custom
9only and warrants special legal protection.

10(7) Government has a fiduciary responsibility to the
11citizenry to ensure that it operates as efficiently as
12possible, and the growth of multiple language bureaucracies
13and printing represents an abrogation of this fiduciary
14responsibility.

15(8) The Commonwealth and its municipalities and the
16Federal Government also have a responsibility to ensure that
17citizens have opportunities to learn English.

18Section 3. Purpose.

19(a) Unifying role.--It is the purpose of this act to
20preserve, protect and strengthen the unifying role of English as
21the official language of this Commonwealth.

22(b) Rights preserved.--This act shall not be construed in
23any way to infringe on the rights of citizens, who have every
24right to choose their own primary language, in the use of
25language for private conduct, nor shall this act be used to
26dictate language policies for the operation and administration
27of organizations or businesses in the unregulated private
28sector.

29Section 4. Definitions.

30The following words and phrases when used in this act shall

1have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
2context clearly indicates otherwise:

3"Official acts of government." Any of the following:

4(1) Actions of the Commonwealth and of its political
5subdivisions that carry the full weight and authority of law.

6(2) Official documents recorded and maintained by the
7Commonwealth and its political subdivisions for the public
8domain, including tax records, professional licenses, deeds,
9real estate records, publicly probated wills and other
10documents of the court systems and public proceedings of the
11governing bodies of the Commonwealth and its political
12subdivisions.

13Section 5. Designation of language of official acts.

14English is hereby recognized as the official language of the
15Commonwealth and shall also be designated as the language of
16official acts of government.

17Section 6. Policies.

18The Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall make no
19policies expressing a preference for any language other than
20English or diminishing or ignoring the unifying role of English
21as designated in this act, subject to the limitations in section
228.

23Section 7. Enforcement.

24Elected and appointed officers of the Commonwealth and its
25political subdivisions shall take all reasonable steps to ensure
26that the role of English as the official language is preserved
27and enhanced.

28Section 8. Limitations.

29The provisions of this act shall not apply to the following:

30(1) When Federal law imposes contrary provisions.

1(2) When the public safety, health or justice requires
2the use of other languages.

3(3) Instruction in foreign language courses.

4(4) Instruction designed to aid students with limited
5English proficiency in their transition and integration into
6the education system.

7(5) The promotion of international commerce or tourism.

8(6) When using terms of art or phrases from languages
9other than English.

10(7) The preservation or use of Native Alaskan or Native
11American languages as defined in the Native American
12Languages Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-477).

13(8) Unofficial communications, through any medium,
14between a person and a member of the General Assembly or any
15officer or agent of the Commonwealth and its political
16subdivisions, as long as official acts of government are
17performed in English.

18Section 9. Restrictions on use of appropriated funds.

19No appropriation of the General Assembly may be expended to
20promote the use of or demonstrate a preference for any language
21other than the official language, subject to the limitations in
22section 8.

23Section 20. Effective date.

24This act shall take effect in 90 days.

 

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