Legislation that ties the granting of a city or county business license to usage of the federal E-Verify system is headed to the full Senate.
On a 9-1 vote Tuesday, the Senate Governmental Affairs approved SB71 by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.
Under the bill, before businesses can receive a local business license, they must sign a standardized affidavit that they use the federal program to screen new employees, that they employ fewer than five people or that they are otherwise exempt from Alabama’s E-Verify law. Providing false or misleading information would be a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Businesses would only have to present the affidavit once, but at renewal time those with five or more employees would have to provide the same federal work authorization user identification number that they provided on the original affidavit.
Under current law, all Alabama employers with one or more employers must enroll in the E-Verify program. Sole proprietors with no employees are the only exception. Every new employee in Alabama, no matter their nationality or place of birth, must be deemed employable under that U.S. Department of Homeland Security program. Alabama’s law has been in place since April of 2012. Eight other states require employers to use E-Verify.
>> For more information, go to E-Verify page at alabamaretail.org
Orr told the committee he decided to introduce his bill after learning Georgia employers in 2017 screened 94 percent of their new hires through E-Verify, while Alabama employers screened 60 percent. That statistic came from an April 2018 article about a PEW Charitable Trusts study. Under Georgia law, employers of more than 10 full-time employees must provide a notarized affidavit that they are enrolled in E-Verify to receive a business license or certain professional licenses. Many Georgia city and county governments provide the required affidavit form and notarize it when businesses apply for a license.
Orr acknowledged that he had received objections to the “mechanics” of his legislation. Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, who are both business owners, expressed reservations about the legislation and the extra paperwork burden it would place on employers. The bill creates an extra step for documentation by requiring the standardized affidavit provided by the Alabama attorney general’s office.
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