Sunday, March 20, 2011

Georgia Immigration-Themed Legislative Rundown (post Cross Over Day)

Now, a Summary:
Three alive bills
- The Senate and House versions of the Show Me Your Papers/ Arizona copycat bills, SB 40 and HB 87 cross to the opposite chamber for committee hearings.(SB 40 now in House Judiciary Non-Civil and HB 87 in Senate Judiciary)
- The SB 162 bill that makes a DUI a felony on first occurrence ONLY for an undocumented person, is in House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee (we believe this passed the Senate in a fluke and can be stalled out on the House side, but watch for alerts)

Bills that were stopped and cannot proceed as written*:
SB 7 - Hurt and Run - denial of workers comp to an undocumented worker
SB 27 - Mandatory E-VERIFY
SB 104 - Arizona copycat bill on steroids
SB 172 - Mandatory 287g for counties over 100k population
HB 59 - Destroy the Dream ban on college access even at out of state tuition rate
HB 72 - English Only for drivers license written test
*we do watch for attempts to amend other bills with language from these failed proposals

This Week:
The week began with the Senate vote on SB 40, the Senate Arizona copycat version that many considered less comprehensive than the House "Show Me Your Papers" HB 87. This bill is still considered by progressives to be totally unacceptable and unworkable & very bad for Georgia. Many followed the extended debate that saw bipartisan opposition, There were Senators who spoke against the bill and then voted for it, and other nuanced maneuvers.

The 34-21 passage included three Republicans voting No. Two of those three thought the bill unworkable but the other thought the bill not tough enough. One excused absence, non-voting Senator (Democrat) would have voted No. And two Democrats voted for. Since there were a couple of Republican Senators that expressed problems with the bill prior to the vote (mostly from districts that are heavily influenced by agricultural interests) progressives were disappointed that they didn't have the political courage to vote accordingly. In addition to the pressure on Republicans to support a Party priority, there was also a feeling that the Senate version had to be kept alive to be "competition" for the more onerous HB 87. Everyone expects that whatever emerges as a final version of a "Show Me Your Papers Bill" will be the result of a conference committee re-write once the two bills work their way through the opposite chamber processes. 

Due to the knowledge that some of the Republican Yes votes were weak, there was a motion to reconsider the vote. This motion would give Senators the opportunity to change their minds. It would have taken a switch of at least 6 Senators to have been successful. If this number could not be achieved, there would be no reason for a reconsideration vote to be taken. And that is what happened. So in sum, there WERE Senators willing to reconsider but not unless they were covered by at least 6 others. SB 40 moves to the House as passed Monday 3-14 by the original vote of 34-21. It was not "passed again" on 3-16, there simply was no vote on reconsideration, the 3-14 vote stands.

The infamous Crossover Day came with the intense drama of not only working to turn Senators on SB 40, but also working, waiting and preparing for potential House action on HB 59 "Destroy the Dream" and the tabled HB 72 English Only bill-which HB 72 English fell under a different procedure because it was a Tabled bill. It was not subject to the Supplemental Calendar process, it actually could have been called at any time in between other bills. The Speaker could entertain a Motion for Remove from the Table. He never recognized a member to make that motion, so this bill technically expired just as the other bills failing to pass by Crossover Day. 

Next Week:
The House and Senate are in session Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (start time is 1:00 pm Monday and 10:00 am Tuesday and Wednesday)
No Committee meetings have yet been scheduled for any immigration-related bills in either the House or Senate, but they could come up quick. Only a few committees have posted their hearings for next week. 

Alive Bills:
SB 162 Felony DUI for first violation ONLY if undocumented, has already been assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil
SB 40 Show Me Your Papers (Senate version), we are sure will also go to Judiciary Non-Civil, but the assignment is official Monday
HB 87 Show Me Your Papers (House version) is already in Senate Judiciary, but not yet scheduled for hearing

The bills all go through the same procedure in the opposite chamber as they went through already.

Both Chambers:
1- Committee hearing or hearings. (Possible sub-committee assignment before full committee hearing, but not really likely for 40 or 87 but SB 162 may be buried in a sub-committee)
2- If passed by Committee, it will go to Rules
3- Rules decides if or when bill gets a floor vote

from Chamber to Chamber:
4- (a) If House votes yes to SB 40 in committee and the floor, it will go back to the Senate for a vote to approve the House passed version of that Senate bill.
(b) If the Senate votes yes to HB 87 in committee and the floor, it will go back to the House for a vote to approve the Senate version of that House bill.

5. If either chamber approves immediately the bills sent back to them from the opposite chamber, then the bill passes and goes to the Governor. Whichever bill is acted upon first becomes it.

6. if the rival chambers will NOT wholesale agree to the versions of the bill sent back to them from the other side.

7. This "disagree" posture will trigger what they call Conference Committee. Three members of the Senate are chosen to meet with three chosen members from the House.

8. The Conference Committee meets to take both bills and try to agree on a re-write that potentially includes portions of both bills. They have total latitude in this re-write process, 

9. Once the Conference Committee comes to agreement, their re-write goes to both the House and Senate for a vote to agree or disagree.

there are only 10 working days to do this. The 10 days will stretch into at least the second week of April. Although we do know they plan to be in recess April 4-8, the other days past the 28th are not yet announced.

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