Immigration bill stalling as House members walk out on committee - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Immigration bill stalling as House members walk out on committee

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A House-Senate conference committee is debating a crackdown on illegal immigration.

And Wednesday a disagreement in policy led to the House members of the committee walking out of a meeting.
     
WIS News 10 was inside the State House when it happened.

The way the meeting ended pretty much sums up how immigration reform has gone in the General Assembly this session.
    
Members of the House left a conference committee in disgust after reaching an impasse with senators over wording in the bill.

Senate Bill 392 would mandate all employers in the state of South Carolina -- public and private -- to verify that their employees are legally eligible to work in the united states.
      
Tuesday, the full House had agreed to vote on the bill, once the conference committee passed it out.
     
But there's still one problem -- the conference committee members from the House and Senate are arguing over the process by which employers would verify employees' status.
    
The Senate members want to allow employers to use a federal I-9 form, which is used to verify a worker's eligibility. But the House members oppose that.
    
The discussion in the conference committee Wednesday centered on a simple rules technicality.

"Here's the conference report, you sign it and we'll vote on it tomorrow morning," said Richland County Rep. Jim Harrison in committee.  
 
The representatives wanted the senators to sign the report, and Representative Greg Delaney calls the dispute a matter of rules.  

"We can vote on it, but we've got to have something to vote on. That's a signed report, if they would sign it for us, we'll sign it for them," says Delaney.
     
But the bill's sponsor, Senator Jim Ritchie, says the House doesn't want to go along with the Senate's plan.

"The House doesn't have the votes, doesn't have the vote, doesn't have the support and is unwilling to square up to employer verification," says Ritchie.
         
And when a reporter asked him to explain to constituents why the committee was holding up the bill over rules?

"I feel their frustration. I would prefer an amendment without an I-9, but the Senate's viewpoint is what they send us into battle with and that is what the Senate has passed,"
    
So for now the bill remains as it did Wednesday morning -- just two steps away from hitting the governor's desk.

Reported by Drew Stewart

Posted by Logan Smith

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