By Rep. Josh Cockroft
An immigration bill heard and passed on the House floor generated much discussion among lawmakers. There were some conservative lawmakers who felt that it was watered down, while others criticized it as going to far. I think it will make important changes in the state, but was crafted with an eye towards ensuring it did not hurt honest businesses at a time when job creation is so important in the state.
As a co-author of House Bill 1446, I would emphasize that lawmakers will continue to rewrite the bill based on the input of law enforcement and constituents. In its current form, the bill would:
* make it a felony to engage in human trafficking;
* bar illegal immigrants from receiving tuition for post-secondary education;
* allow state agencies to report illegal immigrants who apply for state or federal aid;
* require employers to verify the immigration status of potential employees;
* outlaw the practice of illegal immigrants seeking work as an independent contractor; and
* make it a crime to pick up illegal immigrants for the purpose of employing them.
The legislation also includes language borrowed from the Arizona immigration law to prevent racial profiling in an effort to ensure fairness to all Oklahoman citizens.
One of the gun bills I mentioned last week was passed on the House floor. House Bill 1652 would allow Oklahomans with a concealed carry license to store a weapon in their vehicle on technology center property. If this legislation is not passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, gun owners will continue to face felony charges if they store a firearm in their vehicle on technology center grounds. I would be quite disappointed in our Legislature if that practice is not ended this year.
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