Georgia Senate votes to bar illegal immigrants from state colleges

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ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate voted Monday to approve a bill aimed at barring illegal immigrant students from state colleges, universities and technical schools.

Senate Bill 458, approved by a 34-19 vote, also would tweak other state laws dealing with illegal immigration.

The bill now heads to the House. A House committee held a hearing in January on a bill that would bar illegal immigrants from state higher education institutions, but its members have not voted on that bill. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said it has stirred up controversy, but it simply aims to correct some unintended consequences and to clarify the legislative intent of previously passed laws.

“This bill is not about education,” Loudermilk said, adding that it’s about taxpayer-funded benefits going to people who are in the country illegally.

Only South Carolina prohibits state colleges and universities from admitting illegal immigrants. A section of Alabama’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration that would have done the same has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

“Why do we want to put Georgia in the posture of standing in the schoolhouse door?” asked Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, drawing a parallel to the desegregation of public colleges in the 1960s.

University system Chancellor Hank Huckaby has told Senate and House committees that he does not believe such legislation is necessary and that current board policy is sufficient.

THE VOTE

• Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, no vote

• Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, Yes

• Bill Jackson, R-Appling, Yes

IN OTHER ACTION

The House voted 154-5 to pass a major rewrite of Georgia’s open government law. The bill would cut the cost of getting government documents and increase penalties for illegally withholding public information.

It also would force governments to disclose the factual findings of investigations conducted by attorneys, so long as those reports do not pertain to pending litigation or other legal claims.

The bill would allow governments to charge a maximum of 10 cents per pages for copying public records, down from the current 25 cents.

Government officials who unlawfully withhold public records could face a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, an increase over the current maximum fine of $500. Additional violations within a one-year period would carry a maximum $2,500 penalty.

IN OTHER ACTION

The House voted 154-5 to pass a major rewrite of Georgia’s open government law. The bill would cut the cost of getting government documents and increase penalties for illegally withholding public information. It also would force governments to disclose the factual findings of investigations conducted by attorneys, so long as those reports do not pertain to pending litigation.

The bill would allow governments to charge a maximum of 10 cents per pages for copying public records, down from the current 25 cents.

Government officials who unlawfully withhold public records could face a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, an increase over the current maximum fine of $500.


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