What if you had a debate on economic development and an argument on illegal immigration broke out?
House Democrats irritate Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) by pressing to negotiate further with the Senate to add a provision which would withhold tax credits to any business hiring illegal immigrants. Richard insists it’s not needed. He says it’s already in the bill. When Democrat leader Paul LeVota of Independence challenges Richard as to where it is in the bill, Richard tells him he can read the bill and find it.
LeVota and Democrats in the House contend that provisions calling for tax credits to be stripped from businesses using illegal immigrants apply only to key sections of the bill, such as those referring to the Quality Jobs program. They say it needs to be broadened to include all tax incentive programs. Democrats also say a loophole exists that would allow a contractor to escape punishment if subcontractors he employed hire illegal immigrants.
Democrats further contend that Governor Blunt, a Republican, only wants to talk about illegal immigration, but doesn’t want to really do anything about it. Republicans counter by noting state law already holds businesses liable for using illegal workers. Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) reads from the statutes during House floor debate. Flook says the law is there, it just hasn’t been enforced. He and other Republicans say Democrat Jay Nixon, the State Attorney General, and Democrat Susan Montee, the State Auditor, could enforce what’s already law and haven’t.
Republicans rejected the attempt to take the bill back to conference, which would have prolonged the special legislative session. After that minor political scuffle settled, both sides overwhelming voted in favor of the $70 million economic development bill, which was the main focus of the special session. They then went home.