Will the General Assembly reverse the 2018 GDOT carve-out on E-Verify for contractor bids?

Politics, State & National

Written by D.A. King

**note this article ran in Insider Advantage.

In last year’s legislative session Republican state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) introduced legislation that gutted the process intended to ensure that the Georgia Department of Transportation hires contractors that are using a legal workforce. In the haste and bedlam of 2018’s Sine Die, Senate Bill 445 sailed through both the House and Senate.

It is notable that SB 445 went through the Senate Transportation Committee, as Senators Brandon Beach, Butch Miller, Frank Ginn and Mike Dugan were bill signers, in that order. All are transportation committee members — with Beach as chairman.

On SB 445, Chairman Beach made it clear in his committee that “it’s a DOT bill” (professional transcription here. – two-minute archived committee video here).

Now that the cat is out of the bag on this caper- and we have a new governor — one “important issue” for the 2019 session should be to see if lawmakers will reinstate the bidding system for GDOT that all other public employers and their contractors are still supposed to follow.

We recognize many readers will view this as a dry topic – the only folks who may have a concern are those who don’t want their taxes used to pay illegal aliens on GDOT projects.

After mandates were put into place in the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2006 (SB 529) to require all public employers and contractors to use E-Verify, adjustments were made in HB2 of 2009 to deal with the obvious problem that some public contractors were bidding on – and winning – contracts with bids that were based on the cost of black market labor before they swore on an affidavit that they were using E-Verify. This allowed contractors to hire a crew for a job that could not be verified as eligible to work using the E-Verify system, which can only be used for newly hired employees after receiving authorization from the feds to use the online system.

The 2009 solution to this chicanery was to change the law so that bids are not considered unless and until the E-Verify affidavit is presented.

In his quick presentation of the measure, Sen. Gooch told the committee the changes to the GDOT bid rules were being proposed to make life easier for contractors.

“Section 3… makes clear that the deadline for a bidder to supply their signed notarized e-verify affidavit is prior to contract award as opposed to the bid submission. This has caused a problem with some of the contractors that submitted their e-verify affidavits but they didn’t reach to the department either by mail or by other means of delivery in time for the bid, um, deadlines and therefore they were disqualified from bidding on the work. Now essentially requires ’em to submit those E-Verifies prior to the contracts being awarded” said Gooch (emphasis mine).

It is hard to accept that this is a constructive or plausible reason to make changes to the GDOT bidding system, as the existing law is clear that bids and E-Verify affidavits may be submitted electronically. If a contract bidder is indeed an E-Verify user, he can easily send that documentation along with his bid from his computer.

This writer asked GDOT for comment on this curious scenario.  One of the questions asked for verification that SB 445 was in fact a GDOT bill, as Chairman Beach told the committee. That question went unanswered.

This is not the first adventure in state law on E-Verify, bids, and contractors for GDOT.

CBS Atlanta 46 TV News did a series of stories on GDOT’s violations of the bidding/E-Verify law in 2010 that illustrated the lack of concern for the hard-fought mandate designed to make Georgia unwelcoming to illegal employers and illegal labor – and to safeguard taxpayer dollars. We have archived some of those reports:

* “Activist: GDOT Is Breaking State’s Immigration Law – Violation May Make It Easier For Contractors To Hire Illegal Immigrants. Here.

* “CBS Atlanta Asks If GDOT Contractor Is Hiring Illegal Workers.” CBS Atlanta 46 news video here.

* “GDOT Didn’t Know About The Illegal Immigrant Labor Law.” Here.

* “Federal Document Shows GDOT Contractor Lied On Affidavit
Company Swore To Check Employee’s Legal Status in Federal Database.” Here.

* “GDOT: Worker May Have Been Illegal. The Georgia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that one of its subcontractors may have been in the country illegally. The admission came after a CBS Atlanta investigation…” (No link)

* “GDOT Admits Mistake For Breaking Immigration Law: GDOT Commissioner Dodges Tough Questions About Hiring Illegal Worker.” Here.

IAG will follow up on this later in the legislative session, there is more.

You read it here first.

D.A. King is president of the Dustin Inman Society and proprietor of ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com. He has worked on the law featured above since 2006.

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