Senate Bill 9, the omnibus homeland security bill, has had so many dead bills appended to it during its journey through the House it’s now being called “Frankenstein” by immigrant and civil rights advocates.
This morning SB 9 passed the House Homeland Security and Public Safety committee having been appended with a few more dead bills including HB 76 which allows law enforcement to skirt state purchasing procedures if they “negatively impact homeland security” and there’s even something in there about state sovereignty rights. After weeks of languishing in House committee, Frankenstein is on the move.
“They’ve been slicing and dicing and attaching all kinds of dead bills to it,” said Luis Figueroa, staff attorney with MALDEF. “ The danger now is that it will take on more anti-immigrant and civil rights abusing legislation if it hits the House floor.”
If SB 9 is Frankenstein, then HB 12, Governor Perry’s “legislative emergency item” to eliminate so called “sanctuary cities,” is Dracula because it just won’t die. This afternoon it once again rose from the dead after its rather dramatic execution on Wednesday when Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa gutted HB 12, replacing it with SB 9 which was stuck in the House and going nowhere.
Not surprisingly, this got the other chamber’s attention and lo and behold Frankenstein walked. And so that means HB 12 is back in business too. The same Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee that killed it Wednesday brought it back to life today and passed it out of committee 5-3. Such is life for the undead.
And while it might seem like this post is making light of the situation, it really is a monster show for anyone who cares about human rights and civil justice. Both bills are a nightmare when it comes to racial profiling, unfunded mandates, Big Brother overreach, unlawful search and seizures – just to name a few of the highlights, or rather low lights. There’s plenty to be scared about.
Senate Democrats say they’ll block HB 12 from coming up on the Senate floor for debate. But what happens if Lt. Governor David Dewhurst does away with the two-thirds rule? Will Dracula strike again? And in the other chamber will Frankenstein lurch onto the House floor, becoming a tool for the likes of anti-immigrant hardliners such as Rep. Leo Berman and Rep. Debbie Riddle. Stay tuned folks.