|Thursday, April 14, 2011 – Robert Lang|
|One of the last bills lawmakers approved in this year’s session is a bill to offer in state tuition for certain illegal immigrant students.Now comes word that voters may have the final say on the issue.Opponents are trying to collect 56,000 signatures to get the issue before voters in next year’s presidential election.
Washington County Republican Delegate Neil Parrott is leading the effort to get the issue on the ballot.
“This is one of the worst pieces of legislation that passed this year. It is really a slap in the face to Marylanders, who are paying taxes,” Parrott told WBAL News.
“The more people I talk to, they’ve become incensed that this passed, so it’s going to take a lot of action by a lot of people to get this issue on the ballot in the year 2012.”
Parrott says by state law opponents have to collect more than 18,000 signatures by the end of May, and the rest of the 56,000 by the end of June in order to get the issue on the ballot.
The bill requires community colleges offer in-county tuition, their lowest rate, to illegal immigrant students who graduate from high school in the same county as where the college is located. If the student gets a two year degree from the community college, they can transfer to a four-year university and qualify for the in-state rate.
The student or their parents or guardians must also prove they have paid state taxes for at least three years in order to get the discounted tuition.
The bills received final approval from the Senate and House of Delegates on Monday night, hours before the Maryland General Assembly session ended.
Governor Martin O’Malley has not signed the bill into law yet, but is expected to do so.
If opponents get enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot, the measure likely would not take effect as scheduled on July 1.
There has been no immediate comment from CASA of Maryland, the immigrant advocacy group that convinced lawmakers to pass the bill.
During the floor debate in the Senate and House, supporters did say the measure would survive any legal or political challenge.
Some opponents are also considering challenging the measure in court, arguing that it violates federal law.
CLICK HERE to see how your state senator voted on the bill on Monday night.
CLICK HERE to see how your state delegate voted on the bill on Monday night.