TOPEKA An attempt to repeal a law giving undocumented students a tuition break failed today.
The House voted 63-58 for an amendment by Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, which essentially gutted the repeal effort.
Holland then sought a provision to increase penalties against employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. But that was sent back to committee on a 62-59 vote.
House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, who had wanted to repeal the tuition law, said he believed the votes today signaled the end of debate on the issue this year.
"It's not going to come back out of the committee," Mays said.
But Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, who led efforts to repeal the law, said the fight wasn't over.
She said she may try to amend her proposal onto another bill. She added the issue would definitely become part of the political debate this year heading to the elections.
"I've got my recorded votes and the postcards will go out," Hutchins said.
The law, approved in 2004, lets some undocumented immigrants qualify for in-state tuition if they attended a Kansas high school for 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 for in-state tuition, compared with $6,638 for out-of-state residents.