Jan 18, 2011 5:01pm
ATLANTA (AP) — A group of Democratic state senators plans to hold a series of public meetings to assess the impact of immigration on communities around Georgia.
Sen. Curt Thompson, a Democrat from Tucker, who heads the Senate Special Committee on Immigration and Georgia’s Economy, described its mission as a listening tour.
“We don’t have a particular bill we’re for or against,” he said Tuesday. “We’re not introducing legislation. We are aware that it’s a huge issue and we decided to go around to some of the affected areas.”
During the fall, a study committee made up of 14 Republican lawmakers held three meetings at the Capitol to study the issue of immigration and identify its impact on Georgia. The committee heard from various speakers at the meetings and also opened the floor for public comment.
Sen. Jack Murphy, a Republican from Cumming, a co-chair of that committee, said he didn’t know about the Democratic committee.
“I’m not aware of this committee, but I’d be happy to talk to Sen. Thompson about the issue,” he told The Associated Press.
Thompson said he probably would have approached Murphy about the Democratic committee if the first week of the legislative session hadn’t been effectively snowed out by a winter storm.
Some Democrats had complained that they were excluded from the joint legislative study committee that held meetings in the fall. But Thompson insists that the new committee is not a response to that.
“I would say that we are trying to get abreast of this issue because it is an issue and we were not included on the other committee, but I would not call it a response or a tit-for-tat kind of thing,” he said. “We do, however, want to make sure that we hear from folks as well.”
Democrats tend to be less uniform in their opinions about immigration, but they need to be informed because they’ll be voting on potential bills as well, Thompson said.
His goal is to hold between four and six meetings in different parts of the state to hear from community, faith, business, and political leaders have been invited to share their observations on the impact of immigration on their communities and economy. The first meeting of the Democratic committee is set for Wednesday evening at the Warner Robins Public Community Center.
Murphy said members of his committee are working on writing legislation and plan to introduce bills soon.