Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, gave it the old college try Monday, throwing the Hail Mary pass in trying to lift his immigration bill, HB300, from the House Rules Committee and get a hearing for it.
But he failed.
For those who like a little floor intrigue, Herrod, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, Monday afternoon pressed his speaking button. He was recognized by a representative sitting in for Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, and Herrod then moved to lift HB300 from Rules and send it to the Law Enforcement Standing Committee.
Herrod told UtahPolicy that he had to make that move Monday in order to get it on the 4 p.m. Tuesday committee agenda, considering the 24-hour noticing requirements.
And Tuesday’s meeting is the last one scheduled this general session for the Law Enforcement Standing Committee.
Several members of GOP leadership spoke against the lifting.
In debate over his lifting motion, things got a bit heated.
Utahns “have lost faith in the (legislative) process,” over the way HB300 has been bottled up this session, said Herrod.
(A Monday UtahPolicy story details that effort.)
Herrod said some Rules Committee members haven’t even read the bill.
He said that all kinds of evils are befalling Utah because of the illegal alien situation, including child molestation, teenage unemployment and suicides, even the rise in murder rates.
“And we (in the House) won’t even hear a constitutional bill” aimed at fixing some immigration problems, he added.
He quoted Abraham Lincoln in speaking how good people remaining silent is a type of cowardice. “I won’t be a coward and will not let this body go without a vote” on HB300, said Herrod.
Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, an appointed member of GOP House leadership, didn’t take that kindly.
Dougall had made a substitute motion to recess for 15 minutes to let tempers cool a bit on the floor.
“I didn’t make a motion out of cowardice, and it is offense” to say so, said Dougall.
Dougall said Herrod, who is in his last Utah House session, “has issued tirades on this floor, been very bitter in various things.”
The vote was called to recess for 15 minutes, and it passed 40-31. But instead of 15 minutes, the recess lasted more like 45 minutes.
Interviewed later, Herrod said he had a “blunt” conversation with Lockhart during the recess about his desire to have a lifting vote on HB300.
(It is rare, but not unheard of, for the House as a 75-member body to lift a bill that the Rules Committee wants bottled up.)
“We cleared the air,” said Herrod.
In any case, when the House was reconvened Herrod said he didn’t try to be recognized again to remake the motion to lift HB300 from Rules.
“You have to be recognized by the speaker” in order to make a motion. “I don’t think I would have been,” said Herrod.
“My bill is dead – I didn’t make the lifting deadline to make the (Law Enforcement) committee agenda. I believe in the process. I believe my bill should have been heard in a committee, be vetted by a public hearing.”
Herrod, before adjournment at midnight March 8, could try to lift HB300 – which he calls a “constitutional alternative” to last year’s HB116, the guest worker bill – and put it directly on the House’s 3rd Reading Calendar for a vote by the whole body.
But then it wouldn’t have had a public hearing – another process requirement.
“Maybe I’ll be in the dog house the rest of the session. I don’t know,” said Herrod.
“I’m sorry I didn’t express myself better on the floor. I wanted to explain what my bill did,” and the lifting debate could have been that, he said.
With the death of HB300 and the holding of two other illegal immigration bills by House Rules, along with the tabling in a Senate committee of a bill that would have repealed HB116 directly, it appears that the 2012 Utah Legislature won’t have extensive debate on immigration.
Rep. Jack Draxler, R-Logan, told House members that was fine by him.
Draxler said in a poll of his constituents taken earlier this year his people listed what they wanted in illegal immigration legislation.
“HB116 accomplishes all of those” points, he added. Thus, said Draxler, there is no need to amend, repeal or otherwise revisit the package of immigration bills passed by the 2011 Legislature.
Herrod said he’s lost his fight on illegal immigration in the Utah Legislature.
He added: “We all know this is a federal issue, really. If I’m lucky enough to be (elected to) the U.S. Senate, I’ll take that issue up there.”