Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley admitted the state's new illegal immigration law should be simplified, but area legislators are hesitant to make any changes.
Bentley told the Birmingham Business Alliance last week that he feels the law was complicated, and he believes it could be simplified, according to The Associated Press.
"It's not a bad bill. It's just somewhat confusing and it's difficult to explain to people," Bentley said.
Albertville Republican Rep. Kerry Rich, who sponsored the bill, and Red Hill Republican Sen. Clay Scofield said they are willing to look at the governor's proposals, but they will not support any measures that will weaken the law.
"I'm all for it if he signs something that will simplify it but will not weaken it," Scofield said. "I wouldn't rule out anything, but I'm not sure what it could be. If they come up with something that will simplify it and make it easier to understand and not weaken it, I'm all for it. But I'll be against anything that weakens the law."
House Speaker Mike Hubbard, of Auburn, and Senate President ProTem Del Marsh, of Anniston, agreed and reportedly said they "see nothing yet that needs tweaking, but they are willing to consider minor changes."
Bentley claimed that he has been working behind the scenes to collect suggested changes from businesses, law enforcement and other groups. However, he wasn't ready to bring the changes out in the open because they might "become fodder for the U.S. Justice Department's legal challenge against the law, and he wants to wait until closer to the next legislative session starting Feb. 7 before disclosing any plans," according to reports.
Federal courts put a stay on some parts of Alabama's immigration law. However, one of the key portions that requires businesses to use E-Verify is still in effect, and Bentley said he does not plan to change that provision.
"I personally don't believe there's anything we need to do to change any of it," Rich said. "I would be very reluctant. I'm not saying I wouldn't look at his proposal, but I would be reluctant to make any changes in it."
Rich attributed much of the confusion with the law to hearsay and misinformation.
"A lot of people have gotten information from the press or other people or whatever, and sometimes that information is not accurate," he said. "I don't see the law as being complicated, and maybe that's because I was involved in it and I think I understand it pretty good. I just don't see that it's all that complicated and all that difficult."