Debate over in-state tuition for illegal immigrants kicks off in Senate
** UPDATE 11:46 a.m.: Senate passes friendly amendment to the in-state tuition bill 26-20. Suggests there are enough votes to pass the bill on the floor, but are there enough to cut off debate?
Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller just instructed senators to "clear their calendars" for the evening as the body starts debating whether Maryland should grant in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at colleges and universities.
The body rejected a motion by Sen. James Brochin to have the bill sent to the Budget & Taxation committee, a move that could have killed the bill. Brochin said the $800,000 estimated cost of the bill merits scrutiny by the panel that handles the state's budget.
The debate became testy, with Miller at one point acknowledging he did not realize there was a cost associated with the bill. "I'm human," Miller said. "I didn't think it had a fiscal note."
The motion was overwhelmingly rejected, but senators are bracing for a series of amendments. Opposition so far is being led by Sen. EJ Pipkin who is currently arguing that the proposed state law would be an affront to established federal law.
The bill would allow illegal immigrants to attend community colleges at heavily discounted resident rates. The community colleges have open enrollment. After two years of study, the student can apply to universities.