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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jason Carter: HB 87 rewrite still "bad for our state"

The fate of HB 87 will soon be decided
Yesterday, without appearing on the agenda, a new version of HB 87 — legislation intended to crack down on illegal immigration — landed in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was passed by a vote of 5 to 4.

Jason Carter (D-Decatur) was among the committee members who voted against the bill, along with fellow democrats Vincent Fort (Atlanta) and Ronald Ramsey (Lithonia), and republican John Crosby (Tifton). Carter told CL today that the revised legislation was introduced "about five minutes" before it was voted on. Among the changes he noticed were adjustments to what would have amounted to law enforcement on a "person-to-person basis." Penalties on businesses who don't check their employees status against the Federal E-Verify database were also apparently removed. "It makes some improvements," said Carter, "but it’s still an Arizona-style immigration bill. It’s still the kind of thing that’s bad for our state."

The vote would have been 4-4, so ex-officio member Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) was brought in to ensure it passed.

Human rights groups are up in arms about the surreptitious manner in which the vote took place. Paulina Hernandez, director of the group Southerners on New Ground, released the following statement:

“Our legislators should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of cowardly game playing to take place at our state capitol. Casting secret votes when the bill is listed on no calendar, and the public is given no notice or chance to testify is indefensible. What are the lawmakers scared of that they will go to such lengths to push this bill through in secret? Clearly our legislators were startled by last week’s showing of 9000 people at the Capitol loudly expressing their opposition to HB 87 and instead of facing up to the criticism, chose to essentially secretly push the bill through. They should know that their blatant disregard of their own rules and democratic processes will not go unnoticed or unchallenged.”

You can read the new version of the bill here.

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