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Fight over tuition for immigrants derails bill

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana senators fearing a backlash from conservatives are scuttling an expansive education proposal after it was amended to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants already enrolled in state schools.

Lawmakers banned illegal immigrants from qualifying for in-state tuition last year as part of a tougher immigration law. But Republican Sen. Jean Leising of Oldsburg amended a massive education bill this year to grandfather in those who enrolled in universities before July 2011.

The Senate was poised to approve the exemption as part of an education package that also called for expanding criminal background checks, mandating cursive writing instruction and dealing with gang activity in schools.

But a last-minute lobbying blitz from conservative activists this week prompted the education measure's Republican author to pull the bill.