- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, in remarks promoting a repeat of the 1986 amnesty for illegal aliens.
Two bills in the state legislature that would have put real teeth in existing law to help protect Georgia workers - and public benefits - are now dead as stand-alone legislation.
The sounds you may have heard late Friday night were the unsurprised sighs of relief from Jerry Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, the ACLU, Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association and the businesses in Georgia that are addicted to illegal labor.
Friday was what is known to frazzled denizens of the Capitol as "crossover day" - day 30 of the 40 annual legislative-day session by which time a bill must come out of a Rules Committee and be passed by either the House or Senate to have a chance at final passage.
Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, both Republicans, refused to allow two important bills out of their respective Rules committees. A third never even saw the inside of any committee room.
House Bill 1259, The Georgia Employer and Worker Protection Act of 2010, authored by Rep. Bobby Reese (R-Sugar Hill), would have required use of the no-cost federal E-Verify program to obtain or renew a business license. It would have ensured that new jobs don't go to illegal aliens. The speaker refused to allow this bill to be heard. HB 1259 would have encouraged illegal aliens to leave Georgia.
Rep. Reese reports being told that his bill was, ahem ... "too controversial."
House Bill 1164, sponsored by Rep. Rick Austin (R-Demorest), began as a well-written, comprehensive fix to the 2006 Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act. It would have provided increased local immigration law enforcement and punishment for local governments that are even now ignoring Georgia laws on public benefits and employment eligibility verification. It also contained severe consequences for contractors working on the taxpayer-funded public works projects who hire illegal labor, as was recently exposed on the new Cobb County Courthouse construction project.
After having been eviscerated by the ACCG/GMA in the House Judiciary Committee Chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), what remained was rather weak language directed only at contractors. Punishment language for the local governments was completely removed. Willard is the city attorney for Sandy Springs. ACCG/GMA never actually wields the chairman's gavel, but the cozy relationship is clear. Think of the fox in charge of sentry duty at the hen house.
Outraged callers to Speaker Ralston's office asking why such an important and badly needed bill was allowed to die report being told that "there was no time to get the bill out of Rules committee."
But bills that did get out of Rules included one aimed at requiring tanning bed facilities to register with the state, another that sets limits on bear hunting and an apparently urgently needed bill that regulates driving too slowly in the left-hand lane.
In the Senate, SB 460, The Georgia Public Works and Contractor Protection Act, authored by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Cobb), was also designed to create clear, meaningful consequences for local governments and their contractors who ignore existing laws on illegal labor, and giving public benefits to illegal aliens ... including business licenses.
"This legislation sets up a fair and level playing field for everyone involved in public works contracts. The legislation is intended to protect our taxpayer dollars, public employers, and law abiding public contractors, but most importantly help insure that Georgians get the public works jobs. This legislation provides real penalties which can be enforced" says Hill.
With the help of ACCG, GMA opposed the bill. Business opposed the bill. The Lt. Gov. held the bill back in Rules. It died a silent death. So it's "Adios" to a level playing field for honest contractors and unemployed Georgians.
In the Republican-controlled legislature, it seems that bills aimed at the illegal aliens themselves have little trouble becoming Georgia law. But legislation directed at defiant businesses and local governments who are also in clear violation of immigration law? It's a different story.
In non-partisan fairness, I devote the remainder of this space to bills introduced by Georgia Democrats intended to protect working Georgians from the ravages of the crime of illegal immigration.
D.A. King of east Cobb is president of the Dustin Inman Society. He is not a member of any political party.