Beshear Opposes English-Only Driver's Test

Governor Steve Beshear has reversed course on a decision by Kentucky State Police that would have offered written driver's tests exclusively in English.

The state currently offers driving tests in 22 different languages, but was set to limit the tests to English starting June 1st as a way to save money.

Beshear said today he would not allow the change to happen.

Beshear said he was unaware of the proposal until after state police officials made the decision.

He said the proposal does not "reflect the values of this administration or the values that I think most Kentuckians share, as a state welcoming people to do business here."

"Simply it would put a burden on many of our refugees who get here, go to work as soon as possible and build their lives anew," says James Robinson, Executive Director of the Bowling Green International Center.

Something that could be nearly impossible if the "English-only" policy had been implemented.

Robinson says a license is necessary for these citizens who are trying to obtain self-sufficiency.

"Not for the enjoyment of taking a vacation or family leisure, but the main purpose of going to work, back and forth," he notes.

Robinson believes while the original goal of the plan would be to save money... all it would do is cost the state more to find transportation for the people to work.

Right now, Warren County gives tests in 7 different languages... including Vietnamese, Burmese, Spanish, and Russian.

"If the governor hadn't reversed that, I think it would have been sending a message to the rest of the world, "we're not open to a diverse community and we're not open for change."

Kentucky State Police, who created the "English-only" policy says its OK with the decision.

"We are happy to comply with the Governor's directive to continue the license testing as normal," states Kentucky State Police Media Relations Head, Sgt. David Jude.

Sgt. Jude says while saving money by printing less copies of the driver's manuals was a reason for the initial change, it wasn't the only one.

Its also the tests need to be updated... standardized."

Something Robinson says his group will gladly help out with.

He says he's proud of the Governor's decision to take a stand in favor of the international community here in Kentucky.

"Makes me feel like that they are, speaking on the refugees part, instead of seeing us as a piece part of the fabric, they're seeing us as a thread in the fabric," says Robinson.

According to KSP, close to 12,000 non-English driver's license tests are given every year.

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