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Sanctuary Cities Bill Filed for Special Session

A bill that seeks to ban “sanctuary cities” in Texas has been filed for the special session of the Legislature that began today.

Protesters block a rear entrance to Texas Governor Rick Perry's office on the second floor protesting HB12 the so-called "...

A bill that seeks to ban “sanctuary cities” in Texas has been filed for the special session of the Legislature that began today.

State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, filed House Bill 9, a bill that would prohibit local entities from enacting policies that prohibits law enforcement from inquiring into the immigration status of a person lawfully detained or arrested.

Gov. Rick Perry called a special session of the Legislature immediately after learning Monday that the Texas Senate would not pass a bill essential to balancing the 2012-13 budget. His original proclamation did not include sanctuary cities legislation, which he designated as an emergency item during the regular session and was the only one in the category to not make it to his desk for a signature. But the governor is free to add what he wants as the session continues.

At a press conference today, Perry’s aides would not confirm the governor would add the bill to the list of items to consider but said it “remained a priority” for Perry.

The special session was called after state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, successfully filibustered a fiscal matters bill that included school finance formulas.

Davis said the funding would short-change public schools and said after Perry’s press conference she was supported by her fellow Democrats in her efforts to continue debating education funding. Those same Democrats successfully killed HB 12, Solomons’ original bill in the regular session, after voting against bringing the bill up for consideration. During a special session, however, different rules apply — a simple majority is needed to consider and pass bills, eliminating the Democrats' ability to prevent a bill from coming up for debate. Asked today if Democratic support of her filibuster would wane if Perry did in fact make the sanctuary cities bill a part of the summer session, she said the governor hinted he was going to do it anyway. Perry had indicated before the filibuster that he would likely call a special session to address the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and, possibly, congressional redistricting.

“I have no doubt in my mind, for his political platform, he intended to bring sanctuary cities forward,” Davis said. “He’s using these politically charged partisan issues, which will help probably in his presidential desires, but he’s using them to play against what we are trying to do on behalf of the school children.”

Solomons’ office was not immediately available for comment. HB 9 is very similar to the amended version of HB 12 but adds language that prohibits law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling. Entities that do not comply with the language in HB 12 could risk losing state funds.

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