Friday, May 31, 2013

SB 303 Signed into Law As Congress Drags Along on #cir

Earlier this week, the Assembly passed SB 303. The Senate had already passed the bill earlier this month. And now, it's becoming state law.

A bill allowing people in the country illegally to obtain driving privilege cards in Nevada has been signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

When the cards become available Jan. 1, Nevada will join four other states providing a way for immigrants to legally drive on state roadways and obtain insurance.

Nevada’s first Hispanic governor signed SB303 on Friday. He was surrounded by legislative leaders and others who have championed the bill.

Sandoval called it an “historic day” in Nevada. Democratic Senate Majority Leader [Mo Denis (D-North Las Vegas)] fought back tears as the bill was signed.

As we've discussed before, this is a historic achievement. Finally, people who have been living here and otherwise abiding by the law won't just be stopped and arrested because of how much personal documentation they have. And Nevada is at least taking some action on providing documentation to undocumeted immigrants who are still waiting for Congress to act.

Oh, yes. That's right. We're still waiting on Congress... And particularly on US Senator Dean Heller (R-46%).

The left-leaning Center for American Progress did a state-by-state analysis of the estimated economic impact of passing the immigration reform legislation. In Nevada, the organization estimated there were 190,000 immigrants in the state without legal status. Over 10 years, the legalization of the population would generate $534 million in tax revenue and a $17.9 billion increase in gross state product.

Also, more than 100 economists signed on to a May 23 letter to the Senate and House leadership supporting immigration reform, arguing the net impact would be economic growth. The letter was spearheaded by the right-leaning American Action Forum, and the signatories are identified as "conservative" economists.

While [US Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-Searchlight, & Don't You Forget It] is a strong supporter of the legislation, Sen. Dean Heller recently penned an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review-Journal in which he called for bipartisan work to pass reform and lauded the course set in the Senate while stopping short of fully backing the bill as it stands. [...]

Some pro-reform advocates have hope Heller will endorse the bill well before any vote on the Senate floor, possibly swaying other Republicans on the fence. The Sun's Karoun Demirjian reported last week that Heller was not biting, for now.

The full Senate is expected to take up the immigration reform in early June after addressing the farm bill, while the House of Representatives has its own "gang" of bipartisan legislators working on a proposal. The House plan is expected to be unveiled next week.

As we've discussed before, Nevada and other states have been trying to fill the void left by the federal government's past inability to implement comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). But now, Congress has a chance to finally change this. So will it happen?

That's what everyone is now asking. And that's why CIR advocates are demanding answers from Senator Heller. Will the passage of SB 303 in Carson City finally do the trick for Senator Heller?

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