Gov. M. Jodi Rell will consider two bills passed by the Senate Friday night. The first is in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and the second is medical marijuana bill.
The in-state tuition bill will allow illegal immigrants to apply to state colleges and, if accepted, pay the same rate as state residents. The debate which started out as one of the better debates in the Senate, turned sour after Senator Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, called his third amendment to the bill.
There were six amendments total and the final bill passed 21 to 15. Click here for the vote tally.
Senator John Kissel, R-Enfield, at one point during the debate said he doesn’t feel sorry for these “poor pitiful individuals who haven’t been able to document themselves,” over the past 15 to 20 years they’ve been in the country. Then he spoke about how a Department of Correction officer was killed in a car crash by an illegal immigrant. Senator Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport, said the children of the undocumented immigrants “have not broken the law” and called the amendment a “cheap shot.”
The fifth amendment introduced would have made it illegal for municipalities like New Haven to give undocumented workers ID cards so they can get services and open bank accounts. Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the amendment was a “harsh punitive response” and Senator Toni Harp, D-New Haven, applauded the Elm City for the ID card policy which she said, “recognizes a reality.”
Debicella defended the amendment by saying he wanted to stop the practice until the federal government passes a more comprehensive immigration policy.
The medical marijuana bill passed 23 to 13. Click here for the vote tally.
Senator Toni Harp, D-New Haven, said the legislation does nothing to legalize marijuana under any circumstance other than what is medically prescribed by an attending physician. She said twelve states currently allow medical use of marijuana and that Connecticut is one of about a half-dozen more to consider its decriminalization.
“Many perfectly legal drugs, including oxycontin, morphine, alcohol, and tobacco, are known to be far more addictive than marijuana so any objection to this bill suggesting we’re encouraging destructive behavior down the road is an empty one,” Harp said.
“What we are trying to do is help those suffering the effects of a debilitating disease with compassion and provide them some medically supervised, albeit alternative relief with a clear conscience that they’re doing so without the risk of prosecution.”