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“Sanctuary cities” bill lives again

This is why no bill is truly dead until sine die.

In another surprise move by the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee, Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, made a motion to reconsider a vote the committee took Wednesday that replaced the original language of House Bill 12, the sanctuary cities legislation. It would prohibit local governmental entities from adopting policies that prevent local law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status of people lawfully detained or arrested. The issue was designated an emergency item by Gov. Rick Perry and the bill passed the House earlier this month on a party line vote.

But the substitute Williams accepted Wednesday gutted the sanctuary cities language from HB 12, and replaced it with language from one of his own bills, SB 9, an omnibus homeland security bill that had passed the Senate but was stuck in a House committee. Friday, the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security took up SB 9, however, and voted it out.

The motion to reconsider the vote in the Senate committee passed on a party line vote, 5 to 3. Williams then made a motion to consider HB 12 as it was passed out of the full House earlier this month, with the sanctuary cities language in tact. The motion passed on the same party line vote.


State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, raised concerns in the hearing that the surprise move did not allow stakeholders enough time to regroup and provide testimony on sanctuary cities.

“I feel that some people may feel like they didn’t get an opportunity [to testify].” Watson said.

Yeah, well, at this point I doubt any Republican that wants to pass this evil bill cares about that. I’ll just say again that no Democrat has any reason to vote for this, or to vote to suspend the rules. If the GOP wants to bend the rules again to pass this, that’s on them. Postcards has more, and statements from Sen. Jose Rodriguez and Rep. Armando Walle (who was actually commenting on SB9, but it’s close enough) are beneath the fold.

State Senator José Rodríguez released the following statement regarding today’s passage of the so-called “Anti-Sanctuary City bill” by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security:

“I am incredibly disappointed by the actions of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. Reviving the so-called ‘Anti-Sanctuary City bill’ without giving the public the ability to comment is shameful.

“On Wednesday, when dozens of concerned Texans, including law enforcement officials, from across this state, came to testify in opposition to the sanctuary city legislation, they were told they could not because the bill (H.B. 12) no longer contained the sanctuary city language. Instead, with no warning, the language was added back and the measure passed, with no opportunity for meaningful public comment. This is not democracy; it is tyranny by the majority.

“Now, a bill that threatens to build walls between law enforcement and Latino communities will head to the floor of the Senate.

“When the bill is brought up for a vote, I will stand with many of my colleagues in opposition and be a voice for those across Texas whose voices were ignored.”

Today State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to the passage of Senate Bill 9 by the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety:

“Senate Bill 9 has undergone multiple transformations since it was filed in the Senate. And it keeps getting uglier.

This bill left the Senate full of new fees. Republican leadership in the House set out to eliminate the new fees, but they didn’t remove any of the provisions that will cost taxpayer dollars. I voted against S.B. 9 today because it is a massive unfunded mandate, driven primarily by mandatory minimum sentences that will increase the prison population, further stretch corrections resources, and demand more from the state budget.

S.B. 9 will force Texas to get bogged down in costly and controversial federal programs like E-Verify. Because of the high error rate of the E-Verify system, promoting its use will be a burden for all businesses in Texas, particularly small business. My constituents sent me to Austin to create new jobs, not hinder job creation by passing new mandates.

The most recent version of S.B. 9 has become a Christmas tree for failed ideas. Today a state sovereignty provision was added that would allow the governor and members of the legislature to bring a civil suit to challenge any action taken by a federal authority that attempts to interfere with the state’s sovereign authority. In an interesting twist on the ‘loser pays’ concept, the governor and members of the legislature would have immunity in such a suit, sending a message from the legislature that in Texas the loser pays…unless the loser is the Governor or a state legislator.

Each and every section of the ever-changing S.B. 9 deserves scrutiny. In its current form I believe that S.B. 9 will waste taxpayer dollars on policies that will not make a meaningful contribution to public safety. This Christmas tree is no gift to Texans.”

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