June 8, 2011
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A recent University of Texas/ Texas Tribune poll proved what we in District 150 already knew: the number one issue in Texas right now is illegal immigration. Yet no bills were passed in the regular session to deal with illegal immigration. Why exactly is that?
As with everything else in Austin, the answer is more complicated than it really should be. The simplest answer is because most of the legislation, including five of my own bills, was never voted out of committee or heard on the House floor. In most cases, this means that the chair of the committee did not bring the bill up for a vote. There are many different reasons why a committee chair does this. It suffices to say that none of those reasons are satisfactory in the case of legislation that is as important as the issue of illegal immigration. Three bills related to the illegal immigration issue did pass out of the House, including the Sanctuary City bill, but were essentially blocked in the Senate.
Regardless, we now get a second bite at the apple. Because Governor Perry has called us in to a special session, if he will add illegal immigration to the call of the session, we can take action again as a legislature. The Senate does not function under the two-thirds rule during special session, meaning only a simple majority is needed to pass legislation in the Senate. I have re-filed three of my most important immigration bills, and I have sent a letter to Governor Perry respectfully requesting that he allow us to consider them during the special session.
My bills have been renumbered for the special session as follows:
HB 57: This is the same as my HB 17 from the regular session that creates the offense of Criminal Trespass By Illegal Alien and allows local law enforcement to arrest illegal aliens under specific circumstances.
HB 58: Makes it a state jail felony to knowingly or recklessly hire an illegal alien.
HB 59: Requires all state agencies to report to the legislature how much money their agency spends on illegal immigrants.
I have visited with Speaker Straus as well as Governor Perry’s staff about the need to allow us to take action on this crucial issue. I will continue to keep you updated on my progress.