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La Liga de Las Americas

News from COSSA


By Rosa E. Morales, 

Director, Hispanics in Journalism Program, School of Journalism,

Michigan State University


Lansing: The Michigan Commission on Spanish Speaking Affairs (COSSA) is close to completing its five-year strategic plan and advocating for Latinos in more cost-effective ways during the leanest budgetary period in recent history.


The state has a $920 million budget deficit.


At its March 2, 2007 meeting in the Michigan Senate hearing room, discussion focused on the 2007 legislative docket that contains bills that impact the growing Latino population in the state, including a bill that would prohibit counting undocumented immigrants in the future.

Marylou Olivarez-Mason


Commissioner B. Dan Inquilla, attorney with Farmworker Legal Services in Bangor, reviewed key bills in the Michigan legislature:


HB 4406: English as the Official Language bill was reintroduced on March 1, 2007;


Senate Bill 99: Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards;


Senate Concurrent Resolution 3: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security must work with the states “to coordinate development of REAL-ID compliant driver’s license that may also be presented in lieu of a passport;”


House Resolution 25: Urges U.S. Congress to renew funding the “state’s efforts to implement the REAL ID Act of 2005;”


House Bill 4096: Would create the Michigan Opportunity Scholarship for high school graduates or students with a GED. Non-U.S. citizens would not be eligible; and


House Resolution 10: would call on the states to adopt and ratify “an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit the counting of illegal immigrants in the tabulations of population for purposes of apportioning members” of Congress among the states.”


U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services is proposing increasing fees for applications this summer, Inquilla said, and suggested that people write letters of concern to legislators about the increase. 


As part of a growing national concern with security, commissioners were encouraged to become familiar with the U.S. Homeland Security Act. Restrictive bills that may be introduced in state legislatures would be triggered, in part, by the security requirements found in the act or implied.


The 14-member commission, COSSA, currently operates in the Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEC).  Its executive director is Marylou Olivarez-Mason.


COSSA has retained the services Terry Fobbs, MBS, MSS, whose expertise is in organizational development and auditing within the DLEC.


“I’d like to expand this and provide some depth and meat to what’s already there,” Fobbs said. “So when stakeholders look at it the plan it will provide verification and direction.” Fobbs has worked 14 years in state government and is a doctoral candidate in leadership and strategic planning.


The next meeting of the commission is at 10:00 a.m. April 6, 2007, at the University of Michigan campus in Flint. For additional information, contact COSSA’s executive secretary Vicky Potter, at 517-373-8339.   

Editor’s Note: COSSA’s five-year strategic plan, drafts of the document can be reviewed online at www.michigan.gov/cossa or at www.laprensa1.com 


HB 4406: English as the Official Language bill








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