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Five State Legislatures Have Border Wall Funding Bills

Picture of a prototype of US President Donald Trump's US-Mexico border wall being built near San Diego, in the US, as seen from across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, on October 5, 2017. Following up on President Donald Trump's campaign promise to build a wall along the entire 3,200 kilometre …
GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty
MICHAEL PATRICK LEAHY

Five state legislatures are considering bills that would provide additional funding for the southern border wall.

In the past month, funding bills have been introduced in the state legislatures of Texas, Montana, Arizona, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

On Friday, President Trump signed the budget deal that includes just $1.3 billion for border wall funding passed by the House and Senate on Thursday with veto proof majorities.

At the same time, he declared a national emergency that he says will free up an extra $8 billion of already appropriated funds that can be legally redirected to construct the border wall. The redirection of those funds will likely be challenged in federal court, so it is unclear when, if ever, those funds will be available.

The president had initially requested $5.7 billion for FY 2019 to finish border wall construction. Experts estimate that the total financial commitment needed to finish and upgrade the estimated 900 miles of border wall needed is $25 billion.

The bills proposed by the state legislators in these five states are designed to close the gap between the $25 billion total funding needed and the $1.3 billion now appropriated for border wall construction in FY 2019.

Of the five proposals currently or soon to be before state legislatures, only the proposal in Texas, one of four states that actually shares a border with Mexico, has the potential to make a significant dent in that shortfall, as Breitbart News reported:

State Reps. Kyle Biedermann and Briscoe Cain intend to introduce legislation soon that would fund $2.5 billion of wall construction along the Texas border with Mexico, appropriating it from the economic stabilization fund for the state fiscal year ending August 31, 2019. The funds would be used, Biedermann tells Breitbart News, “to design, test, construct, and install physical barriers, roads, and technology along the international land border between the State of Texas and Mexico to prevent illegal crossings in all areas.”

Preference for the contracts and awarding of bids, Biedermann added, “for all phases of construction” would be given to Texans and Texas-owned entities.

While this idea is still novel and untested, given the fact that Republicans control the Texas statehouse and Texas state Senate and Texas’ governor Greg Abbott is a strong ally of President Trump’s, this type of plan could actually work in legally acquiring appropriations for a significant portion of what Trump intends to do along the border.

The other four states where state legislators have introduced border funding bills offer minimal additional funding.

In Arizona, another state that shares a border with Mexico, State Sen. Gail Griffin has introduced a bill to raise $20 million to fund the wall from a tax on porn.

In Montana, a state that shares a border with Canada, not Mexico, State Sen. Scott Scales has introduced a bill that he says will raise $8 million for the border wall.

In West Virginia, three state legislators proposed a bill last month that would raise $10 million for the border wall from the state’s surplus.

The most recent bill to fund the border wall was introduced in Tennessee by freshman State Rep. Bruce Griffey, as The Tennessee Star reported:

Griffey’s bill HB 0562, which is being sponsored in the State Senate by Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) as SB 1504, is “calling for the imposition of fees on the transfer of any money from Tennessee to Mexico and calling for the fees generated to be set aside to fund the border wall proposed by Trump,” according to a statement issued Thursday about the bill.

The news prompted a tweet by Laura Ingraham, “YES: Tennessee lawmaker introduces bill he says will help fund Trump’s border wall,” and included a link to a story in The Tennessean with the same title.

If the bill is passed into law, all qualifying transactions after January 1, 2020, would be subject to a $10 per transaction fee plus 10 percent on amounts over $500. Those licensed in the business of money transmissions, referred to as the licensee, can keep a half percent as compensation for accounting and remitting the fee to the state’s Department of Revenue.

Griffey has not provided an estimate of how much revenue he believes his proposal could provide for border wall construction.

Sources familiar with operations of the Tennessee General Assembly tell Breitbart News that there is generally a positive view of the goals of Griffey’s proposal, but passage this session is unlikely.

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