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Sanctuary cities bill delayed

Another point of order sends another “emergency” bill back to committee.

The controversial “sanctuary cities” bill hit a roadblock in the Texas house late Friday when a point of order derailed the legislation and knocked it off the calendar.

The bill, HB 12, by state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, would prohibit cities, counties and other governmental entities or special districts from adopting a policy that prevents law enforcement from asking persons lawfully detained or arrested if they are in the country legally. Minority groups and immigrants’ rights groups oppose the bill, alleging that it will promote racial profiling and open up legal residents and citizens to harassment by police officers.

The roadblock, which materialized five hours after lawmakers began debating the bill, is the result of an error on a witness affirmation form. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, called the point of order because, he said, a member of the State Affairs Committee, where the bill was heard, filled in a section of the form for a person scheduled to testify. Witnesses are asked to indicate whether they are for a bill, against it or neutral. In this case the witness left the section blank, and the lawmaker filled it in. State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks, a member of the committee, said there was no way to determine that the position indicated was truly what the witness meant to convey.

Martinez Fischer and Geren declined to name the lawmaker, but both said it was “absolutely” a mistake.

Trail Blazers has more, and you can get a blow-by-blow from the Trib’s liveblog. It’s a temporary win – the bill will be back on the calendar on Monday – but sometimes it’s not about whether you win or lose but how you fight. This is something the Dems need to fight.

For what it’s worth, yesterday’s Chron had a story about how law enforcement agencies across the state were speaking out against HB12 on the grounds that it would be a huge unfunded mandate on them; Rick Perry dismissed their concerns, because what does he care? Many of the Democratic amendments that were brought up before the point of order attempted to give police departments and Sheriff’s offices some discretion, but they were all knocked down. I always am amused by those who rail about the oppressive federal government trying to impose its will on helpless innocent states gleefully pushing legislation like this that would impose more state control over cities. And all this happened on the same day that Perry’s “unfunded mandates” committee released its report, though without mentioning this particular bill. A missed opportunity, if you ask me.

On a side note, the early derailment of this bill meant that HB400, the bill that would raise the class size limit, among other things, had the time to be taken up.

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  1. […] limit in grades K-4, came up for debate last night after the “sanctuary cities” bill got sidetracked by a point of order. Here was the original AP story about this bill going into the debate. […]