After an hour of debate rehashing Rep. Jay Reedy’s anti-sanctuary city bill, including more testimony in opposition from the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and procedural moves by Democrat Jason Powell to “gut” the bill, 6 of the 7 Republican members of the House State Government Committee voted “yes,” sending HB2315 toward a vote by the full House.
The Committee’s three Democrats voted no and Chairman Bob Ramsey, a Republican, passed.
Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville), offered an amendment which TIRRC’s lawyer explained to committee members. Thorough questioning by Reps. Bud Hulsey and William Lamberth, however, revealed that the amendment was intended to neuter key parts of the bill.
Anti-sanctuary city Reps. Daniel, Hulsey, Lamberth, Littleton and Rudd, held their ground to vote down Powell’s amendment; all five are named co-sponsors of the bill. Chairman Bob Ramsey voted “yes” with the Democrats and Republican Bill Sanderson passed.
Sanderson then offered his own amendment that would have weakened the strong state policy Reedy’s bill would establish to combat shielding illegal aliens who have committed crimes unrelated to their immigration status, from possible deportation.
The same five anti-sanctuary city legislators again held their ground and voted against Sanderson’s amendment. This time, however, Democrat Johnny Shaw passed while Sanderson and Ramsey voted “yes” with the other two Democrats. With a 5-4-1 vote, Sanderson’s amendment failed.
Shaw’s (D-Bolivar) vote to pass appeared to surprise committee members since his last week during discussion of the bill, he commented that “you can’t find good labor, we know illegal immigrants are doing most of the work.”
Powell next tried to kill the bill with a motion to move it to summer study. This time the same five stalwart legislators were joined by Sanderson to defeat Powell’s motion.
The bill is scheduled today for a vote in the House Finance,Ways and Means Subcommittee, after which it must still go before the full House Finance Committee, and the Calendar and Rules Committee before it goes to the full House for a vote. With the rapid pace that bills are being moved through the process, it is possible that the bill will be on the House calendar next week.
Sixty-seven Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor Reedy’s bill. Neither Bill Sanderson nor Bob Ramsey have added their names. For a bill to pass the House it must receive at least 50 votes.
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