The panel eventually agreed to a very narrow proposal that would require the state to enroll in the Internet-based E-Verify program to determine the eligibility of its employees to work in the United States. But it later died on the House floor.
House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid said one bill that had overwhelming support never emerged.
Part of the caucus wanted a much stronger bill, part of the caucus wanted a much weaker bill, the Olathe Republican said.
Yet the immigration issue will probably return to the Kansas Legislature next year, especially with conservatives poised to gain control of the Senate, and this time it could go somewhere.
My sense is its going to gain some traction, said Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican.
Siegfreid predicted that the House would again pass a bill repealing the law allowing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. The House passed the in-state tuition bill in 2011, only to have it scuttled in the moderate-controlled Senate.
He also predicted that a variation of E-verify would return, as well as legislation allowing police to check the immigration status of someone they stop.
Siegfreid, who wants to run for House speaker if he is re-elected this fall, said he would like to take a cautious approach to any immigration issue that the Legislature might address.
I do not think it would be reasonable to put us in a situation where we start through the courts again if we can help it, Siegfreid said. I would like to pass laws that have been upheld by the courts.
In Missouri, Sen. Will Kraus, a Lees Summit Republican, authored the centerpiece immigration bill this year. Kraus plan would have required public schools to verify the immigration status of students at the time they enroll. It also would have made not carrying proper citizenship documentation a misdemeanor.
Similar to the Kansas efforts, Kraus plan didnt go far. His bill died in the Senate after it passed out of a committee.
The leadership in the Senate, for whatever reason, did not move the legislation along, Im assuming because they had other issues that were going to take time and they knew immigration was going to be a significant time debate, Kraus said.
Kraus said he thinks the immigration issue has waned in Missouri because that state already has gotten tough on undocumented immigrants.
In 2008, Missouri enacted several new measures that require checks on the legal status of all public employees, welfare applicants and jailed criminal suspects. The state prohibited issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants and imposed new penalties for transporting illegal immigrants.
The law also empowered the attorney general to file civil actions against employers who hire illegal workers and allows the state to cancel contracts with such companies. Repeat offenders could lose their business licenses.
We have passed strong legislation, Kraus noted.
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mayer, a Dexter Republican, has created a special committee to look at immigration proposals before next years legislative session.
The five-member committee is scheduled to hold meetings in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and possibly Joplin. Its chairman is Sen. John Lamping, a Ladue Republican. He said he wants the committee to look for ways to encourage legal immigration. He said he is less interested in trying to find ways for Missouri to fill any enforcement void left by the federal government.
And he hopes the committee will come up with ideas that will send a message to the immigrant community that were really trying to figure out ways to attract and retain these legal immigrant communities because we think it can be a real asset to the state.