A group of state senators introduced legislation this morning that would make English Minnesota's official state language, setting the stage for what will likely be the Legislature's first serious debate over the issue.

The bill would make it illegal for the state to require documents, proceedings or other state activities to be in a non-English language. Exceptions are made for defending criminal defendants and protecting "the public health or safety."

The Senate bill mirrors legislation introduced in the House earlier this month. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen is carrying the Senate bill. Rep. Steve Drazkowski is carrying in the House.

GOP majorities in the Legislature could send the bill to the governor's desk. But as with many recent GOP-sponsored bills, Gov. Dayton said he was against English-only legislation while on the campaign trail.

The city of Lino Lakes passed a similar resolution similar legislation this summer after a heated debate. Supporters said it was necessary to reign in translation costs. Opponents said such measures alienate immigrants from civic engagement.

More than 20 states have some form of English-only legislation on the books.

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