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Missouri Senate passes wide-ranging immigration bill

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate has passed a wide-ranging illegal immigration bill.

It would bar so-called "sanctuary cities," authorize state troopers to be trained to enforce federal immigration laws, and require driver's license tests be given in English.

But it also contains an amendment that leaders in the State House don't like.

That amendment would fine employers who misclassify undocumented workers as "contractors" up to $50,000.

It was sponsored by State Senator Timothy Green (D, St. Louis).

"These good contractors (are) competing against the contractors that just hire people and pay cash...so what we're trying to do is in a competitive market, make sure the employers that are abiding by the law do not have an un-level playing field with the ones that do not," Green said.

The sponsor of the House version of the immigration bill, Bob Onder (R, Lake St. Louis), doesn't object to the intent, but says some of the details in the amendment are unnecessary.

"Just as an example, Senator Green's amendment is very long, and one of the things it has is a special new fund that gets created, and we don't really see that as necessary...but we're just going to have to go through it line by line," Onder said.

House and Senate leaders have until 6:PM Friday to pass a final version of the immigration bill.

If they don't, Governor Matt Blunt has promised to call a special session.

Passage of the bill by a Senate committee and by the full body had been delayed, because Senator Jack Goodman (R, Mt. Vernon) blocked its passage until the House sent over another bill on a separate topic.

That bill would do away with a controversial law that allows landowners to declare themselves as self-governing villages, exempt from local zoning rules.

That bill arrived in the Senate today, after which Goodman allowed the illegal immigration bill to move forward.

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