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Two high Profile Bills Face Trouble In A Key Committee

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 Apr 2012 05:23pm | comments
Senator Hob Bryan.

Two high profile bills could face trouble getting out of a Mississippi Senate Committee ahead of a deadline today.

Judiciary B chairman Hob Bryan of Amory says he has concerns about immigration-enforcement and abortion-regulation bills assigned to his committee.

The abortion bill, which passed the Mississippi House, would require a doctor performing an abortion to search for a fetal heart beat and not perform an abortion if one is detected.

Senator Hob Bryan of Amory chairs the Judiciary B committee where the bill is currently pending.

At a Stennis lunch in Jackson yesterday, Bryan says he has previously supported anti-abortion measure only if they would be considered constitutional.

"What we have not done is to pass bill after bill after bill that was obviously unconstitutional just so we could all get on record one more time as casting another vote. Realizing that what was going to happen is that someone would file legislation the next day and the legislation would never take effect," Bryan said.

The heart beat bill is one of five anti-abortion measures pending in the Mississippi Senate.

Anti-abortion advocate Terry Herring says a woman who hears a fetal heartbeat could change her mind about having an abortion.

"The universal sign of life is a heart beat. We are anticipating the heart beat bill will pass this year and set a new standard for when a woman can have an abortion. We would prefer that abortion end entirely but we are willing to start by ending abortion with a heartbeat," Herring said.

Fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, greatly decreasing the time frame when abortions could be performed in Mississippi from the current standard of 23 weeks.

The other bill in Bryan’s committee is an anti-illegal immigration bill.

Supporters of House bill 488 say their goal is to reduce illegal immigration in Mississippi through tougher enforcement.

Bryan expressed concern that the bill is an attempt to tell local police and sheriffs how to do their jobs.

"I just have misgivings for the legislature to instruct a policeman and instruct a deputy sheriff, seems to me to be intruding into local government responsibilities," Bryan said.

Bryan pointed to the E-verify system...an electronic record that employers can use to check someone's immigration status....as a more reliable immigration control measure.

The anti-illegal immigration bill is a high profile piece of legislation with the backing of Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Tea Party.

Rodney Hunt with Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement says reducing the number of undocumented immigrants would free up jobs for Mississippians.

"It would open up these jobs to our citizens and reduce our unemployment. It would make them more self sufficient and also reduce the number of people that are one our public entitlements, our welfare programs," Hunt said.

The bill would allow police to detain undocumented immigrants after they have been arrested.

It's opposed by sheriffs, police chiefs, city and county elected officials and several agriculture and business groups.

Today is the deadline for bills to move out of their committees.

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Senator Hob Bryan.


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