Florida House of Representatives Passes Anti-Sanctuary Bill
By David Jaroslav | January 15, 2018
On Friday, January 12, the Florida House of Representative took a significant step towards the Sunshine State banning dangerous sanctuary cities, counties and campuses when it passed House Bill 9, aptly named the “Rule of Law Adherence Act.”
In summary, the bill:
broadly defines and prohibits sanctuary policies by local governments, state agencies and public post-secondary schools (the State University System and Florida College System)
requires notification to immigration authorities of anyone in state or local custody who cannot prove lawful presence
requires compliance with immigration detainers
authorizes counties to adopt ordinances for recovering the costs of detainer compliance
imposes a duty to report sanctuary policies to public officials and employees
provides for enforcement by the state attorneys and the Attorney General, and anyone may submit a complaint; if valid, the violating entity has 60 days to comply; after that, the state may file suit for an injunction and civil penalties of $1,000 to $5,000 per day prior to the injunction, as well as additional civil penalties and contempt subsequent to the injunction
creates a civil cause of action against state agencies and local governments for personal injury or death caused by illegal aliens released due to sanctuary policies
House Speaker Richard Corcoran has repeatedly described the bill as one of his top priorities, writing in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times in November that the “anti-American phenomenon” of sanctuary cities “must be stopped.”
Representative Larry Metz, the bill’s sponsor, sponsored similar legislation in the 2016 and 2017 sessions. Metz said that, as the father of a daughter, he was first motivated to do so after he heard about the tragic and preventable death of Kate Steinle with her father in San Francisco and committed himself to ensuring nothing similar would ever happen in Florida.
The bill was first heard in the House Judiciary Committee during the interim between sessions on November 7 before being sent to the full House.
Unsurprisingly, in both questions to the sponsor on Thursday’s Second Reading and then in the debate on the bill on Friday’s Third Reading, Metz was repeatedly peppered with the illegal-alien lobby’s talking-points that the bill was both unconstitutional and racist. All in all, their rhetoric was, as Representative Frank White said in response, some “impressive gymnastics” of both logic and legal analysis.
Following the conclusion of Friday’s debate, the bill passed on a party-line vote, 71-35. The legislation now moves to the Florida Senate, where its future is uncertain, but possibly brighter than in prior years. Unlike previous legislative sessions where the House-passed anti-sanctuary legislation never received Senate action, this year, the companion bill Senate Bill 308 will receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30. As a cosponsor, it is likely that Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube’s support will help move it through the committee.
While HB 9 was being considered in the House, Senate President Joe Negron had already said he expected SB 308 to get at least one committee hearing and that “[e]very official should cooperate with all of law enforcement to make sure that our laws are being uniformly enforced.” Negron was himself a cosponsor of the Senate’s 2016 anti-sanctuary bill, another possible factor in favor of its chances.
If anti-sanctuary legislation passes both chambers this session, Governor Rick Scott has not indicated whether he would sign it. However, he has occasionally made general statements in the past opposing sanctuary policies and proclaiming that “we all need to obey the law.”