Partisan spat on illegals bill
Top House Democrat pushes legislation on voting; language resembles Republican Hammon’s oft-denied measure
By M.J. Ellington
MONTGOMERY — The top House Democrat jumped on the illegal immigration bandwagon Thursday with a resolution reminding election officials that it is against the law for illegal immigrants to vote.
Republicans charged that he did so with copycat language from a bill a Decatur Republican lawmaker has tried unsuccessfully to pass for three years, and after the Democrat vowed to derail the bill in committee.
The resolution passed the House but not before Republicans succeeded in naming Majority Leader Ken Guin’s resolution for Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur.
Republicans said Guin worded his resolution with language from Hammon’s bill, which would set criminal penalties and possible prison terms for non-citizens who try to vote.
The dispute between Guin, D-Carbon Hill, and Hammon on the House floor mirrored an exchange between the two in an April 4 committee meeting. At that time, Guin criticized Hammon’s bill and vowed to “take care of” it when it reached the Rules Committee, which Guin chairs and which determines the House calendar.
“It seems there has been a tremendous about-face on this issue,” Hammon said Thursday. “I’ve been hammered on this issue in committee and in the press. I was told my bill would never pass this body.”
Hammon also wants the Legislature to require people to show proof of citizenship before they vote. He said registrars in his district first alerted him to the problem, which he said includes immigrants sent by their employers to “bloc vote” on issues important to those employers.
Guin said that trying to vote illegally is already a federal crime that includes possible jail time and is not an issue for the Alabama Legislature. “I don’t know that the Legislature can do that,” Guin said. “The federal issue is how you can prove it.”
Guin said a reminder to election officials is about all the state can unless the federal government adopts a stronger stance. He said he gave Hammon time to submit his own resolution and acted when he did not do so.
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