Lawmaker language skills belie Idaho's rural rep

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by John Miller / Associated Press

KTVB.COM

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 11:38 AM

BOISE -- 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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