Will the General Assembly reverse the 2018 GDOT carve-out on E-Verify for contractor bids?

Politics, State & National

Written by D.A. King

**note this article ran in Insider Advantage.

In last year’s legislative session Republican state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) introduced legislation that gutted the process intended to ensure that the Georgia Department of Transportation hires contractors that are using a legal workforce. In the haste and bedlam of 2018’s Sine Die, Senate Bill 445 sailed through both the House and Senate.

It is notable that SB 445 went through the Senate Transportation Committee, as Senators Brandon Beach, Butch Miller, Frank Ginn and Mike Dugan were bill signers, in that order. All are transportation committee members — with Beach as chairman.

On SB 445, Chairman Beach made it clear in his committee that “it’s a DOT bill” (professional transcription here. – two-minute archived committee video here).

Now that the cat is out of the bag on this caper- and we have a new governor — one “important issue” for the 2019 session should be to see if lawmakers will reinstate the bidding system for GDOT that all other public employers and their contractors are still supposed to follow.

We recognize many readers will view this as a dry topic – the only folks who may have a concern are those who don’t want their taxes used to pay illegal aliens on GDOT projects.

After mandates were put into place in the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2006 (SB 529) to require all public employers and contractors to use E-Verify, adjustments were made in HB2 of 2009 to deal with the obvious problem that some public contractors were bidding on – and winning – contracts with bids that were based on the cost of black market labor before they swore on an affidavit that they were using E-Verify. This allowed contractors to hire a crew for a job that could not be verified as eligible to work using the E-Verify system, which can only be used for newly hired employees after receiving authorization from the feds to use the online system.

The 2009 solution to this chicanery was to change the law so that bids are not considered unless and until the E-Verify affidavit is presented.

In his quick presentation of the measure, Sen. Gooch told the committee the changes to the GDOT bid rules were being proposed to make life easier for contractors.

“Section 3… makes clear that the deadline for a bidder to supply their signed notarized e-verify affidavit is prior to contract award as opposed to the bid submission. This has caused a problem with some of the contractors that submitted their e-verify affidavits but they didn’t reach to the department either by mail or by other means of delivery in time for the bid, um, deadlines and therefore they were disqualified from bidding on the work. Now essentially requires ’em to submit those E-Verifies prior to the contracts being awarded” said Gooch (emphasis mine).

It is hard to accept that this is a constructive or plausible reason to make changes to the GDOT bidding system, as the existing law is clear that bids and E-Verify affidavits may be submitted electronically. If a contract bidder is indeed an E-Verify user, he can easily send that documentation along with his bid from his computer.

This writer asked GDOT for comment on this curious scenario.  One of the questions asked for verification that SB 445 was in fact a GDOT bill, as Chairman Beach told the committee. That question went unanswered.

This is not the first adventure in state law on E-Verify, bids, and contractors for GDOT.

CBS Atlanta 46 TV News did a series of stories on GDOT’s violations of the bidding/E-Verify law in 2010 that illustrated the lack of concern for the hard-fought mandate designed to make Georgia unwelcoming to illegal employers and illegal labor – and to safeguard taxpayer dollars. We have archived some of those reports:

* “Activist: GDOT Is Breaking State’s Immigration Law – Violation May Make It Easier For Contractors To Hire Illegal Immigrants. Here.

* “CBS Atlanta Asks If GDOT Contractor Is Hiring Illegal Workers.” CBS Atlanta 46 news video here.

* “GDOT Didn’t Know About The Illegal Immigrant Labor Law.” Here.

* “Federal Document Shows GDOT Contractor Lied On Affidavit
Company Swore To Check Employee’s Legal Status in Federal Database.” Here.

* “GDOT: Worker May Have Been Illegal. The Georgia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that one of its subcontractors may have been in the country illegally. The admission came after a CBS Atlanta investigation…” (No link)

* “GDOT Admits Mistake For Breaking Immigration Law: GDOT Commissioner Dodges Tough Questions About Hiring Illegal Worker.” Here.

IAG will follow up on this later in the legislative session, there is more.

You read it here first.

D.A. King is president of the Dustin Inman Society and proprietor of ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com. He has worked on the law featured above since 2006.

BOC backs off legislative option for Post Commissioner Raises

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Home Rule won out on December 4, 2018, as the Board of Commissioners met for a Public Comments session regarding the 2019 budget.

“I think the citizens have spoken,” said Post Commissioner Dallas Miller after an understood agreement was reached by the members of the Board to forego the idea they’ve held for almost two months. Originally, the Board was going to send the resolution for a raise for the Post Commissioners to Atlanta do be voted on by State Legislation in order to have the issue taken care of by mid 2019.

Due to an overwhelming response by citizens questioning why they were sending this resolution to Atlanta and other details about the raise, the Public Comments meeting lasted more than an hour as Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris and Post Commissioners Travis Crouch and Dallas Miller listened.

Citizens like Joene DePlancke and Brian Pritchard adamantly told the Board they wanted the decision for raises kept in county. Miller has already noted sentiments on the issue in previous meetings, stating that it didn’t feel right that sending the choice to Atlanta would end up with him also receiving the raise. He revisited the concept at this meeting, calling it an ethics issue that he would be voting to give himself a raise.

FYN also weighed in on the issue with a recent article, “Commissioner’s pushing for “Fast Answer” in pay raises,” where the question was raised about a Post Commissioner’s election qualifying fees being paid based on the position’s salary, a salary that would then change after they took office.

By reaching an agreement to consider the raises by home rule, the issue will be pushed into the coming months of BOC meetings as they consider the issue locally.  It also negates the budget line that was placed in anticipation of a possible Atlanta approval for the Post Commissioner salary raise.

This does not mean the Commissioner’s will not be getting the raise. Instead, it places the decision for it back into Gilmer County and its citizen’s hands. If the Board approves the issue, it will begin taking effect with re-election cycles, the next position up for re-election, the Post 1 seat currently held by Dallas Miller, is in 2020.

But the home rule was not the only part questioned by citizens at the public comments meeting. Other questions saw clarification and no change. DePlancke also questioned the board on their 1.5 mill in bond debt service, calling it smoke and mirrors. She stated her concern was that the Board was, in a sense, making sure it had SPLOST money left to use in capital without having to tell the citizens.

Paris explained that his intent with setting a separate millage for bond service was to keep it separate from the general fund saying, “If we were to take that one and half mill and move it over to general account, it could be used in general fund. That’s a situation I don’t want to see happen. The whole point of all this is to improve the capital infrastructure in Gilmer County and I don’t want this money where it could be used in the general fund.”

Pritchard questioned the Board’s allocation of the budget saying he could find a half million dollars to reallocate into the Road Department, an area that Paris called the biggest area of citizens concern in his opinion. He stated that the majority of calls he answers has to do with roads.

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Delta memo addresses recent events

News

ATLANTA, Ga. – National controversy swirled after Delta publicly discontinued their group discount relationship with the NRA (National Rifle Association). Then again as the Georgia State Senate removed a tax bill involving the aviation fuel tax credit, which would have benefited Delta in the area of $40 million.

 

That controversy spread through social media when Delta announced their decision on Twitter. Later, Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle tweeted that he would “kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta.” Since then, social media has erupted in debate on gun control, the recent school shootings, and these two entities of Delta and the NRA.

Today, FetchYourNews has obtained an internal memo from Delta to its colleagues. The memo speaks on Delta’s decision for ending the discount as well as their stance on the connection between the decision and the tax bill.

 

Delta Memo NRA Gun Debate Tax Bill Jet Fuel

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Georgia issues same drivers license to illegal aliens with deferred deportation as legal immigrants: DDS policy should be changed in 2018 Georgia legislative session

Politics

By Jeff Jones

Most thinking Georgians will no doubt agree that only illegal aliens require classification as “deferred action on deportation” or who may be under deportation orders from the federal government.

Most Georgians will be surprised to learn that Georgia’s Department of Drivers Services (DDS), the agency responsible for our driving and ID credentials, has issued, renewed or replaced more than 50,000 driver’s licenses and/or official state ID Cards to illegal aliens. These illegal aliens have either “deferred action on deportation” proceedings or are already under federal deportation orders. And that issuance of these official state documents is perfectly legal under current federal and state law.

Surprisingly, the 2005 federal REAL ID Act, passed after the horror of 9/11 says that states can optionally issue drivers licenses to illegals with “deferred action on deportation” and that the feds will allow this ID to be used to board airliners. The law says that “deferred action” is “evidence of lawful status” for federal acceptance of driver’s licenses as an official ID. The REAL ID Act guidelines from the feds are merely minimum requirements and standards for federal recognition – not legal requirements.

Georgia state law currently also allows “deferred action” illegals to get an official Georgia driver’s license and ID card. Surprisingly, but factually, Georgia has more illegals than Arizona.

In 2012 the Associated Press ran a news article headlined “Some illegal immigrants can get Georgia drivers licenses” explaining Georgia’s California-like situation. But, if you call your local DDS office, you will be told in – no uncertain terms – that “Georgia does not issue drivers licenses or ID Cards to illegal or undocumented immigrants.” Confusing, isn’t it? Many Georgia legislators think DDS should try harder to explain this scenario and how it is that DDS is issuing driver’s licenses to illegals.

Again, federal law does not say we must issue drivers licenses and ID cards to deferred action illegals. Instead, each state has the right to decide to whom it issues drivers licenses or ID Cards. And, importantly, Georgia officials also have the right to decide on the physical appearance of these credentials.

This brings me to the fact that the drivers licenses and ID Cards Georgia’s DDS gives to illegal aliens with “deferred action on deportation” are exactly like the ones we issue to legal immigrants, student visa holders and guest workers such as Mercedes Benz and KIA executives here from Germany and Korea, all who entered the United States legally.

This policy can and must be changed.

Georgia has the choice to issue a driver’s license to those with deferred action that will still allow them to drive, but that does not fit the federal requirements to be used as “ID for federal purposes” – like boarding an airliner or entering a federal building. And we can – and I firmly believe we must – change the appearance of these credentials so that no one will mistake the holder for a legal immigrant or a legitimate guest worker here on a legal temporary visa.

Currently at least two states, California and Michigan, issue multiple tiers of drivers licenses. The lower tiers are not recognized as federally approved ID and cannot be used as such. But the bearer can still drive.

I would use Mexico as another example here but Mexico does not allow any illegal aliens to obtain any type of driver’s license.

Georgia already issues a distinctly different driver’s license to young Americans that is vertically oriented and clearly marked “under 21.”

Realizing the United States is not going to be as strict as Mexico, Georgia should issue a vertically oriented ID, like we do for young drivers, to illegals with “deferred action on deportation” or who have been ordered deported, despite that the feds say we are not required to do so.

My bill, HB 484, pending in the Georgia Gold Dome requires DDS to end its current practice and to replace the driving and ID credentials now issued to illegal aliens with a vertically oriented, brightly colored card. This new ID card is designed to make it unmistakably and visually clear that the bearer is not a legal immigrant and that the ID is not acceptable for federal ID purposes. It would look something like the mock up pictured here.

Georgians will also be surprised to learn that many state legislators are not well educated on this topic. Because I introduced this measure late in the 2017 session, it has not had a committee hearing and is in need of legislative co-sponsors. Readers who agree this idea adds some sanity to our driver’s license and ID Card integrity should ask their House member to sign on as co-sponsors and support my bill, HB 484. This is vitally important for the State of Georgia.

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Jeff Jones (R) D167, is a second term Georgia State Representative. He can be contacted at: jeff.jones@house.ga.gov; (404) 565-0177

BOE considers 2018 issues in November

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.

First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.

This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.

Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.

Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.

As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”

The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.

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Governor Signs House Bill 146 in Gilmer Fire Station

News
Nathan Deal Signing Bill 146

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Micah Gravley - District 67 RepresentativeJoined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”

Speaker David Ralston - House Bill 146The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”

FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”

Governor Nathan Deal - House Bill 146Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”

More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”

 

For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:

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Medical Marijuana 6/24/16

GMFTO

A special segment on Medical Marijuana. BKP  meets Rick and Melisa Searcy whose daughter, Angel Searcy, has Cerebral Palsy and Microcephaly. BKP also talks legislation with Dale Jackson from Hope United.

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Gun Control with Rick Glueckert 6/17/16

GMFTO

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