Once a deciding vote against the controversial law, Rep. switches sides.
Two years ago, Iowa Statehouse veteran Russ Eddie cast the deciding vote to defeat a bill to declare English as the Official Language in Iowa.
Now, in his final tour of duty in the Iowa House, the Storm Laker has changed his mind - and his vote.
Eddie told the Pilot-Tribune Monday that the thundering public opinion that he's heard this year has convinced him of the need for the Iowa English Language Reaffirmation Act.
"I've been reading the polls, and what I've seen is anything from 82 or 83 percent to 91 percent of the people in favor. Iowans think it's a good deal. That's one of my first indications on the need to change how I vote," Eddie said.
Even in Storm Lake, one of the state's first small cities to experience cultural diversification and assimilation, Eddie said he is hearing a lot of comments from residents calling for the English law. "People want to make sure we do anything we can to bring the community together as one. Possibly they are concerned about seeing signs of a divided Storm Lake community, one that speaks English and one that speaks another language."
Many are complaining about conditions in places like grocery stores, where residents hear immigrants conversing in Spanish without making any effort to use English, the state representative said.
"I think the immigrants who plan to be here permanently are learning and using English, but people are concerned about the illegal immigrants who have no interest in learning the language and plan to only be here a few months," he said.
Eddie admits that he is unsure if the English as an Official Language bill would make any practical change to the way government operates at the local or state level.
Read the rest of this article in the 2/12/02Pilot Tribune.