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The Legislative report

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By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff

A hearing was held on April 19th on the issue of possibly repealing a Texas law that allows certain illegal immigrants to receive the cheaper in-state tuition rates at state universities.

Since the law was enacted, 11,130 students have used it to qualify for the cheaper tuition.

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, has proposed House Bill 104 which would stipulate that only legal resident could be eligible for in-state tuition. It was among a handful of similar proposal considered April 19th by the House State Affairs Committee. Riddle said her proposal could not prevent undocumented immigrants from attending state universities, "but they're going to have to pay (the more expensive) tab."

Riddle said her proposal sticks up for "hard-working, middle-class people" who are struggling to pay their mortgage and other bills and footing the cost of their children's education.

Rick Noriega, D-Houston, disagreed with Riddle's contention that in-state tuition for illegal immigrants burdens taxpayers. "When you have students we know have a higher degree of education, they're able to contribute back to the economy," he said.

Also on April 21st, five more senior managers left the troubled Texas Youth Commission and the Senate unanimously approved legislation to revamp how the state incarcerates juvenile offenders. Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen is the sponsor of the legislation. He has been sounding alarms about the situation within the Commission since an October 2004 riot at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg. By the fall of 2005, Hinojosa asked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to allow a legislative evaluation of reports about abuse and neglect behind the walls, saying he felt the problems might be statewide. Charges of sexual molestation that surfaced two months ago prodded the action. Most of the agency's top leaders left within the first weeks following the scandal.

Senate Bill 103 would increase internal and external oversight. The agency would be led by a commissioner, appointed by the governor, instead of a part-time board of volunteers. An inspector general would hire peace officers to conduct investigations and the bill allows either local prosecutors or state lawyers to prosecute cases.

The legislation also reduces the maximum age offenders from 21 to 19. limits the population of youth convicted of a felony and also orders more psychological testings and progress reviews.

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2009 17:19  

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