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Idaho Legislature Fairly Bilingual

flickr.com, Boise Metro Chamber

BOISE, Idaho (AP) —  Idaho may be a landlocked state with 84 percent of its residents hailing from white European stock — and just a tenth with Hispanic or Latino roots. Even so, about 20 percent of the state’s 105 legislators speak another language beside English. A big reason: With Mormons making up 27 percent of Idaho’s population, many lawmakers served overseas missions in Germany, France and Spanish-speaking countries.

Some simply learned on their own, like Spanish-speaking Sen. Les Bock, a Boise Democrat, who travels extensively in Guatemala. Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, an Eagle Republican who speaks and writes Arabic, said it’s really opened his eyes to the importance of a global perspective. Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill still reads German daily, while Rep. Linden Bateman says German culture has soaked into his bones.

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