A bill that would let undocumented immigrant students pay in-state college tuition rates won’t progress unless more votes can be found, the bill’s sponsor said Friday.
Sen. Joyce Elliott’s Senate Bill 915 would provide those rates to students who have been attending Arkansas schools for three years and have an Arkansas high school diploma or G.E.D. She said she has “15 solid votes” but won’t run the bill in the Senate Education Committee unless she can find the three more she needs to pass the bill.
“I suspect come Monday, it’s going to be really, really hard to do anything beyond Monday,” she said.
Elliott said she polled everyone on the Senate floor on Thursday. “I know for sure I have three solid no’s, but the rest of them are, ‘I’m thinking about it.’ But I don’t know what that means, you know, at this point,” she said.
Elliott said that perhaps four or five senators are truly on the fence, but she was not optimistic that they would fall on her side.
“I am pessimistic at this point because it’s really disappointing. I don’t want to build up expectations that are not going to be fulfilled,” she said.
Elliott said she thought the numbers were better in the House of Representatives. In 2005, she sponsored a similar bill as a state representative that passed that chamber but fell one vote short in the Senate.
Elliott said some senators have told her they would like to vote for the bill but were facing political pressure from their constituents to vote no. She said she also was facing political pressure.
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Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics. He is also a syndicated columnist in 10 Arkansas newspapers. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @SteveBrawner.