With Congress a Morass, States Continue to Look at Gun Violence and Immigration

This past week was saturated with crisis and tragedy following the events in Boston and Texas, but it also saw significant developments on two critical issues before the U.S. Senate that would likely have otherwise fully gripped the nation's attention. On guns, an already-weakened bipartisan compromise on universal background checks was blocked in the Senate by a minority of senators, ending for now the fight to pass any federal legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. On immigration, the long-awaited full text of the so called "Gang of 8" immigration bill was released, drawing support from the White House, conditional praise from some advocates, and stoking opposition among anti-immigrant forces. With the ability of Congress to pass legislation on any major issue now perhaps even more in question, both issues also continued to play out on the state level this week as well:

"The inability of Democrats and Republicans to see eye to eye in Washington has led lots of people to look to the states as friendlier and more productive venues." [NPR]

After a minority of U.S. senators voted this week to kill compromise legislation on universal background checks, victims of gun violence are pledging to take the fight to state legislatures. [New York Times]

Four gun safety bills were approved by the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee this week following two weeks of intense negotiations. [Register-Guard]

The full text of the Senate immigration bill. [Office of Sen. Schumer]

How the Senate immigration bill would affect a state like Colorado. [Denver Post]

How states like Maryland have been taking the lead on in-state tuition, "paving the way for reform" on the national level. [NBC Latino]

Under the Senate immigration bill, states would no longer face a penalty for offering in-state tuition to undocumented students. [National Immigration Law Center]

The bill also "misses the opportunity to neutralize dangerous state and local laws and policies that result in racial profiling." [National Immigration Law Center]

The Oregon Senate is set to vote next week on allowing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. [The Columbian]

The Vermont state Senate advanced a bill to allow driver's licenses for immigrant farm workers by a 27-2 vote. [Burlington Free Press]

A driver's license bill in Maryland is at the governor's desk and expected to be signed into law. [Washington Post]


(This article originally appeared in the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's email roundup of the latest state policy news. Read the full Dispatch from April 20, 2013 here or sign up to receive the Dispatch in your inbox here.)