Utah Senate leaders want single immigration bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Senate leaders say they are considering running a single immigration bill in the upcoming legislative session that combines parts of numerous bills other lawmakers are already sponsoring. It isn’t clear exactly what the bill would entail. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins told The Salt Lake Tribune that last week’s Republican caucus revealed divisions on how to approach the immigration issue. Current proposals call for stricter enforcement, eliminating in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and creating a guest worker program. Jenkins suggested rolling portions of multiple bills together, but he couldn’t get a consensus. Leadership planned to press harder on moving in that direction when the caucus gathers again Jan. 10, he said. The Legislature could have its productivity hampered if it has to address multiple immigration bills while grappling with hundreds of other measures dealing with everything from education to health care, all while addressing a tight budget, Jenkins said. “Look, I know we have 16 (immigration bills) and we could have 20 easy. This could end up taking weeks and weeks of our time and just destroying everything else,” he said. “We could free ourselves from a week and half of our time if we could put together an omnibus bill.” Senate President Michael Waddoups said there isn’t much interest in “doing a little bit here and a little bit there.” Instead, it has to be comprehensive, he said. One proposal mentioned by Waddoups is to have Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, sponsor an immigration bill that addresses enforcement, education, employers and guest-worker possibilities. Bramble was the original sponsor of a state law that allows illegal immigrants to get driving privilege cards. “It’s not about me, but it’s about people’s lives and whether we can get the support of a diverse group of people to actually tackle the problem,” Bramble said. “If that means sponsoring a bill, then, yes, I’d be willing to do it.”

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