That emerged from last Friday's hearing by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. State Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), the bill's author, told his fellow committee members he welcomes input from the public and special interest groups, according to the AP. They'll get their chance to be heard at a second hearing Tuesday.
Ramsey also said the key provision of HB 87 is the one mandating all employers in Georgia to use E-Verify, a federal system, to the immigration status of prospective workers. That alone would remove the big incentive - jobs - attracting illegals to the state, he said.
Ramsey said he had already made changes since introducing the bill last week, but described them as mostly technical designed at meeting legal challenges.
A major provision of the bill would allow any Georgia resident age 21 or over to bring a civil lawsuit against "any official or agency of this state or subdivision of this state for the purpose of enforcing" the new law "or preventing a violation of federal immigration law." The penalty would be a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 for "each separate violation." Fines collected would go to local law enforcement agencies for training officers in immigration law enforcement.
Another provision certain to face challenge in court is this: "A suspect may be detained for a reasonable period of time necessary to determine the immigration status of such suspect, even after the basis for the original probable cause for the stop has expired."
However, the bill apparently would protect illegal immigrants that report crimes, to wit: "No person who in good faith contacts a state or local law enforcement officer or state prosecutor for the purpose of acting as a witness to a crime, to report criminal activity, or to seek assistance as a victim to a crime shall have his or her immigration status investigated based on such contact or based on information arising from such contact."
As if the paperwork and affidavit load on small businesses were not already excessive, Ramsey's bill piles on another layer. It would require that to get a city or county business license "any person with more than five employees" - think landscapers, tree services, roofers, hairdressers, etc. - "shall provide evidence ...in the form of a notarized sworn affidavit attesting that he or she utilizes and will continue to utilize" E-Verify or any future replacement verification system.
Counties and cities would have to provide the state audit department an annual compliance report - identifying "each license or certificate issued by the agency in the preceding 12 months" and including the name of the person and business to which a license was issued.?
These provisions may have about as much chance of flying as the proverbial lead balloon.
It's easy to see why HB 87 is a work in progress.