"The bill's intent is to help employ Georgians by ensuring that only American citizens are hired on any public works projects, such as constructing roads and government buildings," Hill said. "When taxpayers' money is used to develop government projects, then I believe that the contractors we hire must be required to show that they only employ people who are here lawfully."
Immigration reform activist D.A. King of Marietta, a supporter of the bill, said it was blocked last year by the lobbying firms that represent the city and county governments of Georgia, known as the Georgia Municipal Association and Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
"We expect it to pass with little effective resistance this year, but also expect ACCG/GMA to oppose it unless they can gut it. Then their habit is to say publicly they supported it all along," King said.
The bill addresses a law originally created by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) in 2006, which requires any local government or official state agency to make sure they're not hiring illegal aliens by using a screening system called E-Verify to determine their citizenship or immigration status.
Roger's law also requires any firm contracting with public agencies to use E-Verify. Before the contractor is allowed to bid on a contract, they have to first sign a sworn affidavit pledging their use of the E-Verify system.
But after the law passed, it was found in some cases that after winning the government bid, the contractor would stop using E-Verify or simply lie on the affidavit, King said.
"We have found contractors sign the affidavit who have never heard of E-verity. That happens. We know that there are contractors who have falsely sworn on the affidavit," King said.
Hill's bill addresses this aspect by placing penalties on local governments or official agencies that are in violation regarding the use of E-Verify by impeding their ability to get state funding.
"It's put a degree of difficultly for cheating in there," King said.
The bill would require all potential public works contractors to have used E-Verify for at least six months in mid-2011, then twelve months in 2012, in an effort to create a pool of contractors with constant use of E-Verify so as to stop contractors from dropping E-Verify after winning a bid. King said E-Verify use is voluntary under federal law except for most federal contractors.