Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Readers may remember an immigration employer-enforcement bill passing the Indiana House a few weeks ago. A version has also passed the state Senate. But this measure may never make it beyond the legislature: the House has not yet appointed conferees for the conference report session that must take place before it can go forward. The legislative session ends on Friday and, without a report by then, this measure could be headed toward what one report calls a "legislative graveyard." Many speculate that this refusal to appoint conferees may be a behind-the-scenes attempt to kill the bill. It seems as though action on appointing a conference committee will, at the moment, be delayed until Thursday.
Right now, there are some differences between the Senate and House bills that need to be ironed out before the legislation can move forward. Indiana House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer (D) seems to be hedging a little about if he will appoint conference committee members (e.a.):
"Eventually, I probably will, but we want to know some of the intent," Bauer said. "My suggestion to (the Senate) would be to concur (on the House version). It's a bill that does not have huge loopholes in it like the one sent over here."
Asked whether he would concur on the House bill, Senate President Pro Tempore David C. Long, R-Fort Wayne, said, "I think there's some questions about the funding," referring to $1.5 million added for the attorney general and State Police.
"There's a great deal of money poured into the bill which wasn't discussed here in the Senate. There are legitimate concerns on both sides of the issue about what the proper language will be and who should ultimately be responsible for hiring an illegal immigrant."
Backers of the bill, Sen. Mike Delph (R) and Rep. Vern Tincher (D), say they're optimistic about getting a conference committee. The legislation has faced a number of procedural obstacles before and has survived, so they may be right. But there also does seem to be some concerted effort to find some way of blocking this bill, and opponents of this measure may succeed in running out the clock.