The House sponsor of a bill to make employers to check citizenship of new hires, says his bill is still strong even with a provision that lets companies use a driver’s license as proof the employee is legal.
Murfreesboro Republican Joe Carr says his bill is the strongest “E-Verify” measure in any state. The bill originally required all new hires to be cleared through an on-line, federal government program to check citizenship.
This week, it was changed to give companies the option of using a driver’s license, instead..
Carr says that doesn’t weaken the bill, because the company relying on the driver’s license isn’t protected from fines if they turn out to be wrong.
Democrat G.A. Hardaway of Memphis says the state-issued license ought to be enough..
“If your driver’s license is good enough to get on an airplane, then I would think it would be good enough to keep the employer from incurring fines, if they’re wrong on this.”
As passed, the bill also exempts small companies, five employees or less.
The bill passed easily in the House on Friday. The Senate may take up the bill at any time.
Carr spent many minutes explaining why the addition of the driver’s license provision, sought by businesses and the governor’s office, was not a setback for his bill.
“You don’t have the immunity from the penalties of fines and suspension of business license in the event that you are found…to hire somebody, who, he was here illegally.
“The reason we did not give “hold harmless” to the drivers license provision, or safe harbor, is because we’ve had in Tennessee on a couple or three different occasions, where, the testing center was selling drivers licenses.
So we have a number of drivers’ licenses out there that were sold to illegals, and it was because of that and other provisions that we determined that we were not going to give the “safe harbor” to those businesses that used the driver’s license In determining whether someone was here lawfully.”
The bill is SB 1669 Tracy/HB 1378 Carr, TN Lawful Employment Act