Bill to cut tuition break for undocumented defeated

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

The tension on the House floor was thick as Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, moved to reconsider a bill that would repeal an existing law permitting undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition.

House Bill 224 was shot down for the second time in 24 hours, despite an amendment to extend the tuition break for undocumented students until 2010.

Members of the Utah House of Representatives defeated the bill Tuesday with a vote of 37-37 with one absentee.

Supporters had hoped to get the measure passed Wednesday with one of the bill’s additional sponsors present, but failed by two votes.

The tight voting margin of 38 to 36 surprised Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-Ogden, the bill’s sponsor, who said he lost two Democrats and a Republican he expected to aid him in passing it out of the House.

Donnelson, who said the current law violates federal immigration laws, said he may bring the bill back next year.

“If the federal government hasn’t corrected things by next year, I’ll be back,” Donnelson said.

The bill drew fervent opposition from U administrators who favor keeping the tuition break for undocumented students.

While the bill did not pass, it may still be brought up again later in the session, which Donnelson said he plans to do if he can get the votes needed.