Monday, February 25, 2008

Indiana Immigration Bill Update

An update, from the Indianapolis Star (followed by some interesting comments by Joe):
A proposal to crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants was revived today when the Indiana House of Representatives voted to insert the measure into another bill.

The measure, now part of Senate Bill 345, is ready for a third and final reading in the House by Wednesday.

The House resumed business late this morning when Republicans returned to the chamber after a boycott Thursday night.

But Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, immediately filed a protest to Speaker B. Patrick Bauer’s decision not to hear amendments to the immigration measure.

Despite the tug-of-war over procedure and whether the bill could be amended, Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Terre Haute, the House sponsor for the bill, said he believes Bauer is committed to getting it passed.

Technically, Senate Bill 335, a crackdown on Indiana employers who hire illegal immigrants, is dead. But the proposal was inserted into SB 345, a separate bill concerning the collection of unemployment contributions from Indiana businesses.

Tincher said the amendments contained all of the crucial elements in the original bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, except for language that made it illegal to harbor, transport or conceal an illegal alien, which was removed.

Tincher also said his amendment restored language that said Indiana State Police "shall" enter into an agreement with federal immigration officials. Last week, that word was changed to "may" at the same time $1.5 million in funding was added.

As for a late flurry of Republican amendments offered Thursday -- including the denial of social benefits to illegal residents of Indiana -- Tincher said those amendments are not in play today.

Bosma: decision an ‘embarrassment’

The procedural dispute rankled Republicans, who accused Bauer of not following the rules.

Bauer, the House speaker or presiding officer, ruled that the House recessed Thursday night instead of adjourning, meaning the chamber's business this morning would pick up where it was left off last week.

Republicans argued the House should have been adjourned, so they would have the opportunity to offer amendments to the immigration proposal. Republicans also argued it was against the body’s rules to recess from Thursday until today.

Bosma called the decision "truly an embarrassment to this institution.”

Majority Leader Russ Stilwell, D-Booneville, argued the decision was forced by the Republicans’ walkout and that Bauer acted within the body’s rules.

Bosma said he filed a protest so the historical record would show Republicans objected to Bauer’s interpretation of the House rules.

“I consider this to be a dark day for this institution,” he said.
I was speaking with someone today about the bill, and he mentioned to me that he had spoken with a friend at a retailer who had told him that they had sold out of car towing dollies two times, and the majority of the purchasers have been Hispanic. It was then that I realized that my own store has sold out of vehicle tow bars three times, and again mostly to Hispanics. Are they packing up to leave the state before the bill is passed?


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