Tempers flare in state Senate over flurry of hostile amendments

Hostile amendments by GOP senators draw rebuke from Democratic leader

Tempers flared in the state Senate on Thursday over a series of hostile amendments proposed by Republicans, including one on the hot-button issue of immigration.

The Senate approved a bill that would expand the number of immigrants in the country illegally who would get in-state tuition at state universities.

The action took place after some Senate Republicans tried unsuccessfully to pass a hostile amendment that would also have extended in-state tuition to U.S. military personnel who were stationed in California for more than a year before their discharge and who are using "G.I. Bill" education benefits to attend college.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said the tabling of his amendments sent a bad message. The state will provide benefits to people in the country illegally, he said, “But if they volunteer to serve in our military we’re not going to allow them to have in-state tuition. That’s wrong.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Anderson’s issue is a “compelling” one to put through the normal legislative process. But he objected to multiple Republican attempts to put hostile amendments on bills that have gone through the normal process, saying it is “disruptive of the work of the house.”

Republicans had also tried a hostile amendment Thursday on the state's cap-and-trade program.

“We don’t entertain hostile amendments on the floor,” Steinberg warned.

Currently, students in the country illegally can pay lower, in-state tuition if they have successfully completed three years at California high schools. The Senate voted 27-6 to approve a measure that would extend in-state tuition to students who participate in accelerated learning programs, including some at community colleges, which allow them to graduate ahead of completing the three-year high school attendance requirement.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park) introduced AB 2000, which now goes back to the Assembly for final approval.

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