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A Kansas Senate committee endorsed an immigration reform bill after eliminating proposals that are most important to those wanting the state to take a tough stand on the issue. The committee stripped from the bill:
•A requirement that businesses check new hires against E-Verify, a federal database of legal workers;
•Criminal penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants;
•Requirements that local police do more to enforce immigration law.
The bill, SB 458, as currently written would stiffen penalties for employment identity fraud, human trafficking and the exploitation of illegal immigrants, and have the attorney general work with federal authorities on illegal immigration investigations.
Supporters of the revised bill said it balances the need to do more about illegal immigration against concerns of businesses worried about onerous rules and penalties. Those who want more aggressive action, however, said they’re afraid pressure from business interests could doom their efforts.
“Every important part of the bill was taken out,” said Sen. Peggy Palmer, an Augusta Republican who is the sponsor of the Senate bill. “They’re listening to big business as opposed to the people of Kansas.”
In the House Wednesday night, a committee passed a more aggressive bill, SB 329. That bill includes provisions that would mandate the use of E-Verify starting in 2010 but allow the state Department of Labor to run the checks on behalf of businesses; would ask police to do more to enforce immigration law and would require officers to ask the citizenship of anyone they arrest. Businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants could face contempt charges.
A committee has sent a late-term abortion bill to the full House but without a provision requiring doctors to give the state more specific diagnoses to justify late-term abortions.
The sponsor, Olathe Republican Rep. Lance Kinzer, dropped the provision for more specific reporting requirements to give other parts of the package a better chance at approval.
The measure would allow a group of 10 or more Kansans to sue the state health agency to force it to provide the information required by law on late-term abortion forms submitted by doctors. Kinzer contends a specific diagnosis is already required.
But Rep. Ann Mah, a Topeka Democrat, argued that if getting more information is the issue, lawmakers should pass a bill requiring the detailed diagnosis instead of including more provisions.
Among other things, the bill would require regulators to revoke the medical license of a doctor who breaks the late-term abortion law and give women more information about the procedure, fetal development and resources for handling troubled pregnancies.
The legislation is the House substitute for Senate Bill 389.
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