No In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants

Today, the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing on HB 612, legislation proposed by Delegate Sheila Hixon which will allow illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition benefits normally reserved for legal Marylanders. We also do not offer any tuition breaks for our fellow Americans who live in neighboring states.

The financial toll that illegal immigrants represent for Maryland is clearly evident.  Hospitals end up giving free medical care to illegal immigrants because they lack health insurance, identities are stolen so that illegal immigrants can have a Social Security card, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the taxpayers must pick up the tab for primary and secondary school education for the children of illegal immigrants.

Now, House Democrats are poised to require our colleges and universities to offer illegal immigrants the same price for college if they can prove they went to Maryland high school for two years.  In the Golden State, similar legislation was passed and resulted in a class of graduate and undergrad students at the state’s University of California that may have been as high as 30% undocumented

In addition to the regular arguments against extending the benefits of citizenship to those who are blatantly violating our immigration laws, there are several reasons why this bill is a bad idea.  First of all, Maryland post-secondary schools only offer a certain number of slots for students receiving in-state tuition.  If HB 612 passes, legal American citizens have less of a chance to attend a Maryland school because in-state tuition slots will be filled with illegal immigrants.  Another point to consider is that by passing this bill, we are giving privileges to illegal immigrants that we do not offer to the men and women in our Armed Forces.  Currently Maryland does not give in-state tuition to residents serving in the armed forces who are, at best, technically nonresidents. 

On the Republican side of the ledger, Delegate Pat McDonough has proposed a different plan, HB 802, which would require that any university or community college first determine the application status of every legal resident who applies for school before offering any in-state breaks to undocumented immigrants, excepting those applying under a valid student visa. 

To us, this makes sense.  Let’s not provide any special benefits to those who are here because they or their parents broke the law.

The Minority Report: Streamlined Sales Tax

House Minority Whip Chris Shank and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio discuss the proposed streamlined sales tax and why it would be a wrong turn for Maryland to adopt it.

To contact your legislators on the House Ways and Means Committee, you can get their information here.

To contact your legislators on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, you can get their information here.

Elected Dictatorship?

Why bother giving consideration to the merits of a proposal when you have the power, and the votes, to ignore it entirely? 

Yesterday, on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates, an amendment was offered to a bill up for consideration by the House. The merits of that amendment were neither debated nor voted on.

The bill in question is HB 45, which would require parental consent before a minor can obtain a tattoo, brand, or body piercing. The sponsor of the bill, Delegate Sue Kullen, stated on the floor of the House that part of the impetus for the bill was a case in Calvert County wherein a 14 year old girl was tattooed without her parent’s consent, and developed a MRSA infection. During testimony on the bill, the committee heard that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the provision of tattoo or piercing services is analogous  to an invasive medical procedure which requires parental consent – a minor is not capable of appreciating the consequences of such a decision and a parent’s consent should be required.

Subjecting oneself to this sort of procedure requires proper follow up care – in each case, infection and complications can result. It is also a decision which cannot be later undone without residual effects. Clearly, minor children ought to consult with and obtain permission from their parents before engaging in such a procedure.

The amendment in question, offered by Delegate Gail Bates, would have required parental consent for any invasive surgical procedure – logically, if a minor is not capable of giving informed consent to a procedure which pierces the skin with a needle, they are not capable of giving informed consent to a more invasive surgical procedure, requiring significantly more follow up care, with significantly higher risks.

The objections raised to the amendment by the Democrats were purely technical. The chair of the Judiciary committee questioned whether or not the amendment conformed to the rules of the House, insofar as each bill must pertain to a single subject, and no amendment may change the original purpose of a bill. The rules of the House exist to ensure orderly, reasoned debate on issues, followed by considered and deliberate voting.

Ultimately, however, the rules are interpreted and applied by the House as a whole – which translates to an up or down vote on any question of the rules. Despite an Attorney General’s opinion that the amendment was on the same subject, and a reasonable claim that the purpose of the bill was not altered, the amendment was ruled out of order. Once that occurred, the matter was no longer up for debate.

After a complex series of parliamentary maneuvers, the Speaker and the majority manipulated the rules of the House, taking advantage of superior numbers to do so, in order to stifle debate and avoid a vote.

Given the fact that the majority party has sufficent votes to kill any amendment, what is the harm in allowing free and open debate on an issue as important as the health and safety of minors?  One has to wonder what exactly they are afraid of.