“Why this bill, and why now? And why not look at what they are doing in Washington to take care of this?” Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton asked.
Wednesday, one day after a federal judge blocked President Trump’s executive order to withhold federal funding from cities with immigrant sanctuary policies, a Louisiana House committee heard a bill imposing state sanctions on cities that don’t cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement regulations.
“This is something that we’ve been pushing for some time – it’s not just now,” the bill’s author, Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs), explained. “The judge that ruled in that case put a stay on it, but many times these decisions are overturned. So that’s not the final word.”
The bill empowers the state Attorney General to determine if a city violates the law, and then says the A.G. “shall” ensure that penalties are imposed.
“If someone is deemed to be in violation, all state grants and general appropriation funds can be seized?” Representative Joseph Marino (I-Gretna) asked Attorney General Jeff Landry.
“I think the penalty provisions are irrelevant,” Landry replied. “This is about ensuring cities and municipalities out there follow federal law.”
“I respectfully have to disagree that the penalties are irrelevant,” Marino responded. “This looks like it’s a very huge penalty for violating one federal law, and not other federal laws – just this federal law.”
Zach Butterworth, Director of Federal Relations for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, urged the committee to carefully consider the motives behind this bill.
“Take the politics out of this – would we still be here?”
But voting along party lines, the committee advanced the bill, 8-7, to the full House.