TOPEKA — A Eudora legislator caused a buzz early Saturday when he tried unsuccessfully to include language similar to Arizona's new immigration law in the Kansas House budget bill.
"This is modeled after immigration law that passed out of the Arizona Legislature," said Rep. Anthony Brown, a Republican. "It denies benefits to those folks who can't prove their status."
He didn't say much more about the proposal, but as the amendment was read, it appeared to include a part of the Arizona law requiring people to prove citizenship to law enforcement.
Democrats questioned whether the measure could be added to the House's budget bill.
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After a 30-minute huddle at 1:30 a.m., the rules committee decided the idea could not be tacked onto an appropriations bill, calling it "more policy than appropriations."
Brown said he wouldn't challenge the ruling but that the issue would return.
He said the idea did deal with state budget issues, noting the amendment would block noncitizens from receiving public benefits. And any fines would go back into the state general funds.
"I think it is an important policy that is vital for the state to look at," he said.
The new Arizona law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.
Highway bill stalls
Kansas House leaders aren't sure whether a proposal for a new $8.2 billion, 10-year state transportation program has enough support to pass.
The House didn't vote Saturday night on the transportation bill before adjourning until Monday. The Senate approved the bill late Friday.
The proposal has been a priority for construction companies, the Kansas Department of Transportation, local officials and some lawmakers.
To pay for the projects, the state would have to issue up to $1.7 billion in bonds and boost registration fees for heavy trucks.
Also, proposals that legislators have pursued to raise the state's sales tax — to balance the next state budget — would set aside future revenue from that increase for highway projects.
Some legislators, particularly conservative Republicans, don't like the new debt or the reliance on higher taxes and fees, especially with the state's economy struggling.