Legislation Would Have Prevented State Agencies From Using Contractors With Illegal Workers
LITTLE ROCK -- A House committee Tuesday turned back legislation to bar state agencies from contracting with businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
House Bill 1024 by Rep. Rick Green, R-Van Buren, would prohibit state agencies from entering into or renewing a public contract with a contractor "who knows or should know" that it or a subcontractor employs an illegal immigrant.
Green offered an amendment to the bill that would give a contractor 60 days to correct the situation after the firm is found to be employing an illegal immigrant.
The vote was 8-7, with 11 votes needed for the 20-member committee's endorsement.
Green said the bill would be a way for Arkansas to "take a stand" on the issue of illegal immigration.
Several members, among them Rep. Daryl Pace, R-Siloam Springs, questioned why the measure would be necessary when employing illegal immigrants is already a violation of federal law.
"I think that we're just piling on here," Pace said.
Alan Hughes, president of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, testified that the labor federation supports the bill because it addresses a fairness issue.
Contractors who employ only legal workers are at a disadvantage when competing against contractors who employ illegal immigrants, who may be willing to work for low wages or without benefits, Hughes said.
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