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Sanctuary cities bill hearing rescheduled

Didn’t know you could do this in the Lege.

A controversial immigration proposal scheduled for a public hearing Monday was postponed after a border Democrat argued that Republicans did not give the public sufficient notice about the meeting.

The “sanctuary cities” measure, Senate Bill 185, by state Sen. Charles Perry, seeks to prohibit cities from adopting policies that forbid police from enforcing federal immigration laws — or asking the immigration status of someone they arrest.

The proposal was scheduled for an 8 a.m. hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee. But state Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, used a procedural move called “tagging” — or blocking — to get the item knocked off the agenda because the notice for the hearing was posted online Friday. It should have been posted earlier, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, the committee chairman, said at the hearing.

“The bill should have been posted as early as Thursday to ensure compliance with Senate rules,” Birdwell said. “It was my fault. I personally apologize.”

Under the chamber’s rules, senators are allowed to request an additional 48 hours of notice for hearings that are posted 72 hours or less in advance. Rodriguez requested that notice Monday morning.

The hearing has been rescheduled for March 16, when the subcommittee will also hear Birdwell’s Senate Bill 3, an omnibus border security bill.

Rodríguez said he fielded several phone calls over the weekend from constituents, including El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, who wanted to speak against the bill but couldn’t make it to Austin in time.

“We refer to it, and I think some of you refer to it, as the ‘show me your papers’ bill,” Rodríguez told reporters at a news conference Monday. “We made a procedural move to allow for more time for people to come before this committee and be able to have their views heard on this major, major legislation.”

See here for the background. This bill is the same kind of stinker it was in 2011, when the Republicans last tried and failed to pass it. It won’t be easy to stop but we’ve got to try. The Observer and Stace have more.

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