The Chronicle’s View: Please kill House Bill 437

By and

It’s back for another run, except this time the House-Bill-formerly-known-as-224 is “just another piece” of a further-reaching bill that calls for “limitation on government benefits” to undocumented residents. Basically, it’s the same idea-it just focuses less specifically on the “undocumented students” with whom public sentiment resonated so strongly.

House Bill 437 passed out of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee yesterday morning and now heads to the House for debate.

Most of the additional mumbo jumbo merely specifies the government’s responsibility to enforce fraud. The text regarding undocumented student tuition remains much the same, with one exception: A grandfather clause amended to make HB 224 more palatable to voters has been removed, and future students would only be able to receive in-state tuition by applying before this May.

So why does sponsoring Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, believe HB 437 will meet a better fate than its predecessor?

Well, for starters, HB 224 was voted down by just two votes last month. It missed passing the previous day by only one vote, suggesting that at least three members of the House were up for grabs. Even though this new bill takes a slightly firmer stance against in-state tuition for undocumented students, it may well succeed because the additional text gives those politicians the chance to change their minds without acknowledging their fickleness.

Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, who spurred this debate with the introduction of HB 224, hinted that he might be back if he felt he had the votes. It might be a bluff, but if those swing voters are led to believe he’s gained sufficient ground, they might be more willing to fold to a perceived “consensus.”

Hopefully legislators see through such trickery and make the right decision. The 62 students at the U currently receiving in-state tuition save more than $4,000 on 12 credit hours per semester. That’s a significant change for students to bear.

As previously stated, it is The Chronicle’s opinion that the idea of repealing in-state tuition for undocumented students has little merits and is contrary to the best interests of Utah’s economy.

If the bill does pass through the House and Senate, there is still the chance that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. would veto it, as he suggested he might do if faced with signing HB 224.

Hopefully, at the very least, Huntsman wouldn’t let additional wording prevent him from taking the same stand as before.