Senators Pass Prenatal Care for Illegal Immigrants Bill

Bridget Fargen

A controversial prenatal care bill, sets up a show down at the state capitol.

A bill which would give prenatal care to illegal immigrants now heads to Governor Dave Heineman's desk with just one day remaining in the legislative session.

Senators passed a LB 599 a bill the governor has made clear he intends to veto.

Wednesday afternoon there were plenty of cheers from a crowd of people outside the Capitol.

It's all because of this.

Wednesday around 2:10pm, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, said this, "LB 599 passes."

A bill which restores prenatal care for low-income women and gives prenatal care to illegal immigrants.

Rich Ketter was at the rally Wednesday. He tells 10/11, "All children need to have the opportunity for prenatal care, all children need to have the opportunity to be born healthy."

The bill passed 31-15, it's an issue some say isn't just black and white.

Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln was one of the 15 who voted against the bill. He says it was one of the hardest decisions he's ever had to make.

Fulton tells 10/11, "This is a pro-life issue we're talking about. On the other hand, there's also illegal immigration and I understand the balance between the two. But there's even a third issue here and in my mind, what's the appropriate role of government. This is a hard issue, I've wrestled with it for a year and half."

Sen. Mike Gloor, a former hospital CEO, voted for the bill. In a press conference he told people, he's seen the consequences of mothers who don't have adequate prenatal care.

He went on to say, "This is not just an issue of being supportive of pro life, which I am, and being consistent with that value, for me it's also an issue of, this is the right decision to make, to save dollars taxpayer dollars."

Supporters say illegal immigrant or not, every baby should be healthy.

Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege also supported the bill. He said, "She's carrying an entirely legal individual, defenseless and innocent and needs our care. So we have a choice of what's the best way to spend the dollars we're going to spend anyway.

Sen. Fulton added, "In this case, I don't think we should because given the fact that there is some scandal and there are those who are paying for people who are here illegally."

While LB 599 passed, Senators did not pass it with an emergency clause. The measure which included the emergency clause would have put the bill into effect immediately.

On the other hand, senators did pass the appropriations version of the bill with an emergency clause. Senator Tony Fulton said he voted for this bill because it's good fiscal policy. The emergency clause in LB 599Ae allows the bill to take effect immediately so it will be included in the budget.

In order to over ride Governor Heineman's expected veto, 30 senators must vote for the bill. Heineman has five days to sign or veto a measure he receives, not counting Sundays.

Wednesday, April 18th, is the 60th and final day of the session. The last day was postponed to give them time to vote on any of Heineman's vetoes. Based on Wednesday's vote of 31, it could happen.

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