posted by Mark Moore (Moderator) at Wednesday, March 30, 2005
HB 1525 - Scholarships and Instate Tuition for Illegel Aliens passed Senate Committee today. It was sneaked in without other senators even knowing it was going to be brought up today. I presume they will try to pass it tomorrow as quickly as possible. The sponsor Joyce Elliott said they had the backing of the Attorney General's office. However, this does not jive with what Beebe's office told others. According to someone who taped the meeting Joyce Elliott said at the meeting. I wanted to thank the AG. The AG had some questions and we were glad to be able to work between Beebe and me, and he told me he is comfortable with the language but it still doesn't not address the residency requirement. "That is a question that is unresolved anywhere." .......he can defend what we are doing with the bill. This gives us the backing of the AG to help us move forward. "This is something he is comfortable defending in court if he has to." (Quoted material exact quotes; other wording is closely paraphrased.) Below is what I sent as a response to a reporter, who asked if I had any comment, which shows there is a real discrepancy between what Elliot said and what the Attorney General's office is saying. The amendment does not fix the legal problem with the federal law 8 USC 1623. Even a layman like myself who has read 8 USC 1623, Beebe's Attorney General's opinion, and this amendment would know that. When I sent the amendment on to Attorney Joey McCutchen and told him that supposedly Beebe said it was okay and that someone had said he even helped them write it, McCutchen and another lawyer immediately said that couldn't be true based on his last attorney general's opinion. McCutchen called the Attorney General's office, and he basically said his opinion would be the same now about 8 USC 1623 as before; but that the changes may have taken care of the equal protection issue, but we never challenged HB a525 on that issue. McCutchen is preparing a press release. I think it is shameful that Joyce Elliott would tell the committee that the AG's office said the legal concerns are taken care of with an amendment added to the bill when apparently that is totally untrue. It is also shameful for her to bring it up today when no one, not even other senators knew about it. I have seen a pattern where legislators do this and will come back and assure the comminute or legislative body that an amendment has taken care of an issue when it hasn't. But that tactic has been successful several times before. I understand that two senators, Jim Holt and Denny Altes, have asked for the Attorney General's on the bill so I guess we will see what comes out officially on this. I presume now Joyce Elliott will say she was talking about the equal protection issue when she said the AG's office said the legal concerns had been taken care of. However, that is not the impression she left or intgended to leave. It is hard to believe that our legislators would do us that way - but some do. It will also be a shame if the bill passes, a lawsuit is brought, and Arkansas taxpayers have to foot the bill for every out of state student attending Arkansas colleges. It seems that Arkansas is already in dire straits in several areas, higher education being one of them. Why would Arkansas want to take on more. Thinking Arkansans realize that you reward behavior that you want to encourage thus giving benefits to illegal immigrants encourages more illegal immigration…not less. Arkansas is a small, poor state. We can only assimilate so many immigrants and illegals. The four Senators voting for it were Bryles, Argue, Jimmie Jeffress and Wilkins. Bisbee voted against it and Broadway and Gene Jeffress were quiet, making it 4 to 3.
Such overwhelming opposition by their constituents, and only one of these senators had the guts to vote against it? Cowards! I'm not surprised that Sen. Wilkins voted for it, as he is a co-sponsor of this ludicrous bill. Not shocked at Argue's "yea" vote either. I'm dissappointed in Jim Jeffress. Don't really know too much about Sen. Bryles, but I can say I vehemently disagree with his vote. Instead of working at getting the upper hand on our state's dire illegal immigration problem, these people are doing their best to advertise Arkansas as a state of choice for law breakers.We should do our best to make the state aware that these people, along with Rep. Elliott, are the reason this bill was recommended for a senate vote despite its almost certain challenge in court.BTW, thank you Sen. Bisbee!
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