27 January 2003
License to kvetch
Last year, the Oklahoma legislature, noting substantial increases in the state's Spanish-speaking population, passed a measure written by Sen. Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City) to make the state driver's test available in Spanish though it has yet to be implemented because of a lack of funding.
This year, there's a new bill, courtesy of Rep. Ron Kirby (D-Lawton), which would require that all "official state business" be conducted in English. Cain says that Kirby's bill will supersede his; Kirby says it will do no such thing. It seems likely that if Kirby's bill should pass, the state Supreme Court will wind up deciding the matter.
And language isn't the only issue with driver's licenses this year, either. In the 1970s, state law mandated that anything on your head except prescription glasses be removed before taking the photograph to be affixed to your license, a law which remains in effect. There are no religious exemptions, for Muslim women or Roman Catholic nuns or anyone else, but here's where it gets interesting: the vast majority of license renewals are issued, not by the Department of Public Safety, but by independent agencies contracted by the state, and the law provides no penalties should the agencies fail to comply. I expect the law will be rewritten eventually, but not this year.