Friday, December 28, 2007

Swinford on HB 13: There I was, slaying the dragon, when the ACLU stole my sword and steed

House State Affairs Committee Chairman David Swinford and I sure remember the debate over his bill HB 13 a lot differently. Wrote Bob Campbell ("Texas House committee plans second immigration hearing," Dec. 27):
State Affairs Committee Chairman David Swinford, R-Dumas, was disappointed when representatives backed by the American Civil Liberties Union defeated his House Bill 13 last spring in Austin to withhold state money from "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate.

So he was pleased that Craddick gave him the responsibility to draft legislation for the 81st Legislature in January 2009.

"The ACLU got it killed because some representatives were more beholden to them than to protecting our kids from the drug dealers," Swinford said. "It's absolutely untrue that people on the U.S.-Mexico border don't want border security because who is the first to get whacked? They are."

"My bill said, 'You need to enforce all the laws. If you pick and choose, the state will withhold some of your funds because we are not a sanctuary state, we're a law abiding state."
I watched debates over this legislation pretty closely and wrote about them on Grits (see below), and from my recollection that's hardly an accurate rendition of what happened. The version of the bill that died with a point of order at the end of the process contained no such language, though ACLU (among quite a few others) certainly opposed it. But you can't blame ACLU for killing the provisions Swinford blames them for; that was done by GOP legislators on his own committee.

Conservative Republicans control the State Affairs Committee, which Swinford chairs, by a 7-2 margin. So it was his own party members, not the ACLU, who wouldn't go along with that proposal in the filed bill, a fact Campbell could easily have checked on the state capitol website. (See the text of the House committee report and other versions of the bill.)

Which three or more Republican members of his committee, I wonder, does Swinford consider "beholden" to the ACLU, an organization that does not endorse candidates, give money, or participate in elections? When you look at it that way, it sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?

HB 13 died because Chairman Swinford played fast and loose with the bill from start to finish, and because the Senate larded the thing up like a Christmas tree in May with junk, much of it given them by the Governor, that turned the bill into a monstrosity before it finally died a much deserved death. Swinford appeared willing to say anything to pass the bill, and at times didn't know the facts behind the legislation's details, which from my observation had more to do with why the bill died than anything else, at the end of the day.


DAC said...

But he has to use the ACLU as a scapegoat (the Republicans Anti-christ). Even if it is BS the masses will swallow that any opposition to the bill must be by those supported by the ACLU. As for him speaking for the Valley, I don't think so. We will take the crumbs the governor feeds us for our police (and any other crumbs we can get with the current Republican majority) but I, personally, like the thought of being a sanctuary area.

JT Barrie said...

IF the ACLU is so powerful - why do we still have over 300 innocent people still in Guantanamo Bay awaiting a hearing on their "crimes" against the US?