Illegal immigration targeted in House
Last session, the Tennessee House of Representatives, in a bipartisan effort, passed legislation to strengthen Tennessee laws cracking down on illegal immigration. However, that bill continues to sit in the Senate.
“The issue of illegal immigration is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” said state Rep. Phillip Pinion of Union City. “We must continue to promote legal immigration to this country while at the same time deterring those who are breaking the law and we cannot do that if people continue to use this issue as a political football.”
The Tennessee Immigration Compliance Act increases penalties on businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants by taking away their tax exemptions. The bill also requires state agencies to verify the identity and legal status of people applying for public benefits and requires law enforcement to verify the legal status of any person charged with a felony or DUI.
“We cannot allow the people’s business to be hijacked by partisan politics,” Pinion said. “Tennessee has been a shining example of bipartisan cooperation in government for generations and now is not the time for that to change.”
Currently, the bill is sitting in the Senate, after failing to garner enough votes in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
Another issue House Democrats look to work on in 2008 is improving water access to more people in Tennessee. This year’s drought exposed a lack of access that many families in Tennessee must deal with every day. Currently over 112,000 residents are believed to have no access to Tennessee water supply, and that number could increase with consistently dry summers.
“We have homes less than an hour from our State Capitol where families are having to hand pump water out of contaminated creeks because they have no other choice,” Pinion said. “Water is not a luxury, it is a necessity and we must do more for our citizens who are suffering.”
Last week the “Drinking Water Access and Resources Planning Act of 2008” was introduced to tackle the issue of water access and shortages caused by a lack of access. This bill will establish goals and processes for planning long-range management of Tennessee’s water resources, especially for underserved and un-served areas.
“It’s amazing to believe that in 2008 we still have remote places in Tennessee with no infrastructure involving a fresh water supply,” Pinion said. “Tennessee has ample water supplies, and we must take steps to bring those sources to the people.
In addition to illegal immigration and water resources, the House Democrats will also look to tackle the issues of the Lottery Scholarship Surplus, long-term care, and more. The complete 2008 agenda for the House Democratic Caucus will be announced later this month.
Published in The Messenger 1.21.08