By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Bills that would add immigration enforcement to local law enforcement’s duties and place additional restrictions on abortion face a committee deadline today, and on Monday the panel’s chairman expressed skepticism about both.
But Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said he has not decided whether to call the bills up in his Judiciary B Committee for consideration.
Bryan said he is studying legislation designed to curb illegal immigration, but cited the various groups – ranging from law enforcement to business and agriculture – that have expressed opposition.
He said he has questions about whether the Legislature should tell “police and sheriff’s deputies how to act when they arrest somebody.” The legislation, which local governments have called an unfunded mandate, would require law enforcement to check for immigration status if they suspect a person is in the country illegally.
His remarks came in response to questions at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/Capitol press corps luncheon.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves assigned both House-passed bills to Bryan’s committee. If the bills don’t pass out of the committee today, they die.
Bryan said he always has supported efforts to put additional restrictions on abortions within Supreme Court guidelines for what is constitutional. And he said legislation already is on the books in Mississippi making abortion a crime if the U.S. Supreme Court ever changes its position on abortion.
For those reasons, he questioned whether what is known as the “fetal heartbeat bill” pending in his committee is needed.
The fetal heartbeat bill says if a heartbeat is detected, an abortion would be prohibited. But if the prohibition on abortion is blocked by the courts, the intent of the legislation is still to require a test to detect the heartbeat before an abortion is performed.
In some instances, both supporters and opponents, said it would require what has been described as an “invasive” transvaginal ultrasound to detect the heartbeat.