House Approves College Aid Bill

Rob Moritz, Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.), Feb. 24

LITTLE ROCK—An emotional and teary-eyed Rep. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, buried her head in her hands Wednesday afternoon after the House approved a measure that would make the children of illegal immigrants in Arkansas eligible for state college scholarships.

“I feel as if it just drained every ounce of energy out of me to get this done,” Elliott said after the 63-31 vote.

“This is a momentous day for Arkansas; I don’t take the Senate for granted, but I knew that this was a big, big hurdle today,” she said. “I have spent . . . since 2003 really working on the bill itself, trying to get it right.”

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House Bill 1525, which is endorsed by Gov. Mike Huckabee, now goes to the Senate.

Elliott said the measure, similar to legislation already passed in Texas, New York and California, would allow the children of undocumented Arkansas residents to be eligible for state-sponsored scholarship opportunities.

“House members showed courage by dismissing the shrill, misleading, often inaccurate criticisms of this bill,” Huckabee said in a statement. “They voted to create true opportunity for all graduates of Arkansas schools. It’s the kind of message that gives our state a very different image from the one in 1957 when we said ‘no’ to opportunity for children.”

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