SB 379 Back from the Dead?

March 6, 2009Shahid Haque

On Wednesday, we celebrated the death of SB 379.  Given that the Senate voted to indefinitely table the bill, it seemed like a done deal.  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle headlined the death of the bill.  Nevertheless, it looks like Senate Republicans have been successful in resurrecting the bill.  It appears that yesterday, Senate Republicans took advantage of the absence of three Democrats (Sens. Squires, Jent and Windy Boy) to move that SB 379 be sent back to the Judiciary Committee for amendments.This move was met with skepticism as to whether it is permitted under the procedural rules of the Senate.  Nevertheless, it appears that SB 379 will rear its head once more for a floor vote in the Senate.At this point, we don’t know what amendments will be made.  However, we can guess that the amendments will remove the controversial forfeiture provisions of the previous bill, which would have allowed the state to seize property used to “transport, move, conceal, harbor, or shield” any undocumented alien.There were many problems with this bill, and the forfeiture provisions were only one of them.  While these forfeiture provisions were clearly over the top, I find the human implications of the bill far more troubling.  I have a difficult time understanding how property interests can take precedence over the human suffering that would result from the bill.I urge lawmakers to stick to their guns and vote against this bill when it reappears on the Senate floor.

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