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Florida Senate takes immigration bill straight to floor, might make it tougher

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said Monday that there probably won’t be any more meetings of the Senate budget panel. That means several key issues — including unemployment compensation and immigration — will likely be headed straight to the floor. #

Haridopolos said he was interested in making some changes to the Senate’s immigration bill, such as adding E-Verify requirements in other areas, including for people seeking government benefits and applying for employment through workforce boards. #

He also said the the chamber would be debating on the floor whether peoples’ immigration status should be verified “when there’s a criminal investigation or outright arrest, versus a traffic stop,” a signal that he might be looking to bring the measure more in line with the harsher House version, which allows officers to make immigration inquiries during the course of a criminal investigation. #

Anitere Flores, R-Miami, helped scale back some controversial provisions, making local enforcement of immigration optional as opposed to mandatory and providing alternatives to E-Verify for businesses. #

Now the bill will be carried by Senate Budget chair J.D. Alexander, who has already been the target of emotionally charged lobbying efforts by immigrant advocates. It still isn’t clear when the bill will come up, but it could be as early as this week — perhaps during a bonus round of lawmaking to be held Saturday. #

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