Sunday, February 13, 2011

General Session 2011: Week 3 Summary

This week flew by.  In fact, events are occurring so quickly that it seems almost dreamlike.  I have a hard time reconciling my memory of events with a calendar.  I also ended the week in total exhaustion.

One of the interesting developments in the immigration debate this week was the passing of HB70 (the so-called heavy enforcement bill) from committee on Friday.  This bill has now become symbolic rather than substantive in its effect.  The key changes in the bill this week were done by making detainment a "may" provision rather than a "shall" provision.  It seems like a small change but the real effect is a remarkable diversion from the bill's original intent.  Expect to see the status quo in detainment practices from law enforcement departments across the state.  The "Deport Them All Now" crowd believes they are getting a tough law pushed through but in reality they are just getting symbolic gestures from those interested in playing to their emotions on this issue.

The watering down of HB70 is timely.  The majority of the public is searching for other answers to this problem and more thoughtful (and less expensive) solutions are now on the table for discussion.  We spent this week discussing SB 60 and HB 116 in a workgroup with the Senate to see if there is some common ground among the alternatives proposed.  There will be more developments on this subject next week.

Finally, the last thing I did on Friday was attend the Judiciary Committee meeting for my Juvenile Fingerprints Bill HB 48.  However, before my turn, I was treated to hearing the same committee eviscerate HB 59 sponsored by my good friend from Layton.  Even with big names like Mark Shurtleff testifying in behalf of the bill, the committee was unimpressed and, after a torturous hour and half or meticulous cross examination, struck down the legislation. 

This was the less-than-cheerful tone of the meeting in which I presented HB 48.  Unfortunately, we also were walking into the meeting with a couple of marked disadvantages.  First, I misunderstood the feedback I received from the stakeholders involved in our first committee hearing and made changes that needed further clarification.  Secondly, Legislative Research neglected to release the bill for review until an hour before the meeting.  The stakeholders and I had no time to adjust any wording.  Thus, the scene was set for the near death experience of this bill.  One legislator on the committee tried twice to kill the bill through a motion to "table" the legislation.  You can listen to the experience HERE.  I'll be back to the committee next week for a final attempt to get this to the House Floor for a vote.  


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