West Virginia state legislators were surprised to discover that Senate Majority Whip Billy Wayne Bailey, a Democrat, had quietly slipped a provision reading, "English shall be the official language of the State of West Virginia," into a mundane parks and recreation bill that passed during the latest session of the legislature. Bailey thus accomplished what English-only advocates had been trying unsuccessfully, but a little more openly, since the late 1990s.

"English only" movements are usually aimed at Latino immigrants, so it's worth noting that West Virginia's Latino population, according to the 2000 census, is the lowest among Southern states, numbering only 12,000, or about 0.7 percent of the population. To be sure, it grew by 44 percent between 1990 and 2000, but that's actually the second lowest rate of growth in the South -- in every other state but Louisiana (excluding Texas and Florida), Latino population grew by 100 percent or more in the 1990s (in six states, it was more than 200 percent). (See "The New Latino South," a 2001 report by the University of Memphis, the Highlander Center, and the Southern Regional Council.)