Topeka Supporters of a law allowing some undocumented immigrants to pay resident tuition rates at public colleges are angry over a move by House Speaker Doug Mays to have a re-vote on legislation to repeal the law.
"This is not a debate we should be having," said Melinda Lewis, director of policy, advocacy and research for the Kansas City, Kan.-based El Centro.
The law was approved by the Legislature in 2004, and a bill to repeal it failed last week on an 11-11 vote in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.
But Mays, R-Topeka, asked Committee Chairman John Edmonds, R-Great Bend, to have another vote on the measure. Edmonds said he agreed to it as a courtesy to the speaker. The second vote will be Wednesday when lawmakers return to session.
"I didn't feel like it was very well resolved in committee," Mays said.
Lewis said Mays and Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, who filed the repealing legislation, were trying to rig the process to get the repeal approved.
"I spend a lot of time working with kids to help them understand the legislative process. How do you explain when the speaker and one representative seem to have a personal vendetta?" Lewis said.
Lewis said at least one of the opponents of Hutchins' repeal law had a previously scheduled appointment and would not be able to make the Wednesday meeting.
Edmonds voted against the repeal legislation, though he said he did not support the tuition discount. He said he opposed the repeal because it would force the House to vote on a controversial measure that probably would not be approved.
Kansas is one of nine states that grants in-state tuition to noncitizen students. Current law lets some undocumented immigrants qualify for in-state tuition if they attended a Kansas high school at least three years and graduated or earned a General Educational Development certificate in Kansas.
Last fall, 221 students enrolled under the law, most of them at community colleges, according to the Kansas Board of Regents.
A full-time undergraduate from Kansas pays $2,412 per semester at Kansas University, compared with $6,638 for out-of-state residents.