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Update Posted March 01, 2012

Chancellor Hank Huckaby Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee on Undocumented Students

Following a hearing in the House committee on HB59, which would prohibit undocumented students from attending any public higher education institution in Georgia, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate, SB458. It received a hearing on February 22, in the Senate Judiciary Committee and was approved by a vote of 6-2. It now rests in the Senate Rules committee for consideration.

That bill, sponsored by Sen. Barry Loudermilk and others, seeks to amend Georgia law “relating to the verification of lawful presence within the United States, so as to modify provisions relating to verification requirements, procedures, and conditions for applicants for public benefits; to modify the definition of a secure and verifiable document; to modify provisions relating to the Immigration Enforcement Review Board.”

Under the bill, “public benefit” would include admission to and attendance at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

At the Senate hearing, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, along with Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson, testified in opposition to the bill.

“We all know the vigorous debate about undocumented immigrants receiving public benefits. In the university system, the debate centers on whether undocumented students should be admitted and if so, how much should they pay. Several weeks ago, I asked the House Higher Education committee considering HB 59 to permit the Regents’ current policy to continue. Today, I am here to make the same request of you,” testified Huckaby.

In his testimony, Huckaby reiterated points he made to the House Higher Education committee just weeks before during its hearing on HB59.

Chancellor Huckaby urged the Senate committee to let the current policy stand as the guide for admitting undocumented students and their tuition rates.

The current policy, put in place by the Board of Regents in October 2010, provides for a consistent approach across the University System for the verification of lawful presence in the United States of all applicants admitted with respect to granting in-state tuition. Anyone unable to verify lawful presence must pay out-of-state tuition rates.

The Board’s new admissions policy also prohibits the admission of any undocumented student to any institution that did not admit all academically qualified students for the past two years due to capacity constraints.

Chancellor Huckaby assured the committee that the current policy has worked and of 318,000 students in the university system, less than one-tenth of one percent are undocumented and all of those students pay out-of-state tuition.

He also stressed that graduating more students is the goal of the System and helps Georgia prosper “economically, culturally, and educationally.”

SB 458 is scheduled for a floor vote on Monday, March 5, by the state Senate.

Other USG Relevant Legislation

Senate Bill 396, sponsored by Senator Ronnie Chance, transfers the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center to the Board of Regents. Georgia Southern University will be responsible for the governance of the Center.

The Herty Center is named for Dr. Charles H. Herty, a Georgia native who conducted research, in Savannah, in the pulp and paper industry. The center will continue “to conduct research, development and commercialization with respect to natural and synthetic organic and inorganic material of all types; to accelerate the commercial availability of newly developed or discovered systems or processes using these material; and to produce and manufacture for others good and products using natural or synthetic materials of all types that serve to enhance the economy of the State of Georgia.”

Once the bill passes, the Board of Regents will assume responsibility for the Herty Center from its former trustees on July 1, 2012

House Bill 981, sponsored by Representative Stephen Allison, seeks to change the gun carry law. The bill, if passed, would allow those persons licensed to carry a concealed weapon into certain locations not previously allowed that are not under federal regulation like schools – including colleges, the airport, churches and the state capitol.

HB 981 seeks “to provide for persons holding a valid weapons carry license to carry a concealed weapon into certain locations under certain circumstances; to change provisions relating to the qualifications for licenses to carry weapons and renewal licenses; to change provisions relating to fingerprinting; to exempt license holders from certain laws regulating the carrying of firearms; to prohibit certain limitations regarding the carrying of firearms during states of emergency; to provide for civil remedies for violations; to change provisions relating to preemption by local regulation; to provide for the disposition of firearms used in burglaries or armed robberies; to provide for the disposition of firearms seized in criminal investigations and surplus firearms of law enforcement agencies; to authorize the use of silencers on hunting firearms under certain circumstances; to remove the Governor’s authority to suspend the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms in an emergency…”

HB981 has been assigned to the House Public Safety Committee chaired by Representative Ann Purcell.

Posted by Sonja Roberts
Published in: Senate Bill, Immigration, House Bill, Legislation