Updated, 12:11 p.m.:
State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said today during a House recess that he may not call a meeting to advance the "sanctuary cities" measures after all.
"It's not looking very likely, it's not looking very promising," he said when asked.
The statement means the measure likely has no chance of passing as a stand-alone bill. But some lawmakers said several House Republicans are still trying to attach the measure to SB1, must-pass budget legislation.
State Rep. Burt Solomons says at least one version of the contentious sanctuary cities bill will advance out of committee today, despite the morning cancellation of a House State Affairs meeting.
Two bills, SB9 by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, and HB9 by Solomons, contain the measures, which would prevent local entities from prohibiting law enforcement from inquiring about the residency status of a person arrested or detained. The committee was scheduled to take up the bills this morning but Solomons said members were still en route to Austin from their districts, forcing a cancellation.
Solomons didn’t say which bill would get voted out of committee but hinted it may be HB9. Unlike the Senate bill, which has made it through the upper chamber, HB9 has not moved out of either chamber, meaning time isn’t on lawmakers’ side if they want to see the bill make it to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. There have been concerns about SB9, Solomons said, because it requires that every jail adopt the federal government’s Secure Communities initiative, which he said some local governments might view as an unfunded mandate.
Asked about the time left to consider the bills in this current special session (which ends Wednesday), Solomons said, “We [the House] still have time to do it and… send it over [to the Senate] and they can move like this if they want to,” he said, snapping his fingers to indicate a sense of urgency. “If they don’t want to that’ll be up to what they want to do.”
Solomons also said he plans to amend HB9 to restrict law enforcement officers from questioning the status of only those arrested or lawfully detained because the person is suspected of committing a crime, which would effectively eliminate witnesses or victims of crimes from being questioned.
If either bill makes it out of committee today, the House Calendars Committee, which sets the lower chamber’s schedule, could meet later today to place the item on tomorrow's House agenda.
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