The Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor says Iowa’s new “English Only” law sends the wrong message to the business community. Debi Durham, the runningmate of G-O-P gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross, has been president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in Sioux City for the past eight years.Durham says if you want to succeed, you need to learn English, but she says in the world of economic development, the new law created the perception that Iowa was not open to legal immigrants. She says that’s the wrong message to send. She says that was not the intention of the bill, and she says unfortunately, as with many laws, the intention and what actually happens once the law is enacted, aren’t the same.Durham says she’s not talked to Gross about the issue. Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s runningmate, was a bit surprised by Durham’s stand.Pederson says Durham doesn’t know what she’s signed on for if her views are that different from the G-O-P’s stated views. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill establishing English as the state’s official language, and Democrat Governor Vilsack signed it into law. Pederson says the bill didn’t do anything, and the Governor was able to bargain for more state funding for English as a Second Language courses. Pederson says if the Governor had vetoed the bill, there would’ve been more TV ads from national organizations like “FAIR” that she says were divisive and hateful. She says it would’ve created an atmosphere that was worse. Pederson and Durham appeared today at a forum in the Iowa State University student union.
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