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.
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.
Coming from Athens-Clarke County, Kemp says he got frustrated with the local government’s regulations and taxes. He went on to say, “I wanted to make government smaller. I wanted to make it more efficient. I wanted to streamline it. I was tired of liberal, big Democratic policies going on in state government.”
Moving ahead to his current campaign, Kemp told those present to look at the candidates and ask, “Who do you actually trust to do what they say?”
Kemp noted his use of technology to advance Georgia saying, “I do have that record of using technology to change our corporate filing system where now, the last two years in a row, we have literally set records for the number of annual registrations we’re doing in the first quarter … We also implemented a state-wide voter registration system, a new system because our old one was failing and it was on the state’s old mainframe computer. This is literally a state-wide IT project where we had to go through year-long procurement and then implement this new system in all 159 counties, retraining all the county registrars and election workers on how to use it. But we did that because we now have a better system that does more for the local election folks.”
Elections became a closer focus in Kemp’s meeting as he spoke about supporting the photo ID law for securing elections. Kemp stated he has been attacked by several politicians calling him a voter suppressor. Adamantly denying the claim, he noted 800,000 more people on voter rolls now than when he took office. Though accused of suppressing voting, Kemp noted record turnouts for voting in Georgia for the last elections we have had including the 2016 Presidential Election, the SEC Regional Primary, and even the Karen Handel versus Jon Ossoff special election.
Focusing on his four-point-plan, Kemp took his time to explain his ideas for the governor’s office and his next steps if he gets elected. Noting his first point of making Georgia the number one state in the country for small business, Kemp said that he is a small business guy who spent and still spends time with his construction company. Saying 95 percent of corporations in Georgia’s 700,000 companies employ less than 50 people, he added that Ellijay itself is built on the backs of small businesses.
As his second point, Kemp claimed he wants to fundamentally reform state government through its budget, operations, and taxes. This brought up points of the spending cap and tax reform. Kemp said the only tax breaks he has seen is for those who have lobbyists before adding, “I’m wanting to be your lobbyist as governor, your lobbyist to give you tax breaks.”
Accomplishing this, according to Kemp, would require implementing the spending cap and budgeting conservatively in order to have money left over at the end of the year. Having money left over would lead to the real tax reform. Kemp added he did not care who it was, he would work with anyone on tax reform as long as it is broad based.
“The third point is making sure all of Georgia has the same opportunity; we’re moving all of Georgia forward. It’s not healthy for our state when we only have certain communities that are growing and thriving,” said Kemp, who added that he was the first candidate to make a plan to strengthen rural Georgia including protecting our military bases, taking the Georgia Grown program internationally, and creating economic strike teams to focus investments and job opportunities for projects of real regional significance.
Resting on his fourth point, Kemp said it was something that is easy to say, but not for politicians to follow through on. “Putting Georgians First” has become a campaign slogan for Kemp in addition to a trending hashtag #gafirst. Kemp delved deeper into the topic saying he wanted citizens ahead of special interest groups. He also wants to enforce the ban on sanctuary cities saying, “It’s ridiculous that we have states like California that are now wanting to become sanctuary states when we’re not even taking care of our people and our own veterans. Illegals can go into hospital rooms and get free healthcare and our own people are getting priced out of the market.”
Closing his speech, Kemp told those present that he could not do it alone saying, “I cannot win this race without your help.” Stating he was not a special interest candidate, Kemp claimed he has the resources to win and the “best ground game in the state” with locals and citizens who endorse his message and his campaign. He called it a grassroots army that he was raising through people who would support him.
After delivering his message, Kemp took a few moments to answer questions. Generally focusing on elections, voter IDs, and ballots, Kemp noted there is not a verifiable paper audit trail in current systems. With an aging system that has been near collapse, Kemp says they have been looking at options for the next system to use. Considering electronic systems versus paper ballots, the discussion of what system should be used has caused debate.
Kemp spoke about a test last November in Conyers as a pilot: “You vote on a marking device like we have now. Then, once you hit submit, it prints the ballot out. You can hold it in your hand. You can look at your selections … Let’s say it’s not like you want it, you take it to a poll worker, they spoil the ballot, and you go back. If it is like you want to vote, you go to a scanner. It scans that ballot, counts it electronically, so you have the electronic count. Then it drops it into a locked ballot box, so you have the paper receipt. So, you actually have two ways to audit after the election.”
FetchYourNews also got a chance to ask Kemp about his opinions on Senate Bill 375, “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act.” Though Kemp said he had not fully read 375, he said he signed the pledge to support religious liberty legislation that was vetoed in recent years. A topic that has divided lawmakers and legislators, the religious liberty pledge could set the future of reviving that legislation. While supporters point to the protection legislation like 375 could afford businesses and departments, opponents fire back with allegations of “legalized discrimination.”
Kemp said in today’s Tea Party meeting, “The sky is not falling if we protect religious freedom and religious liberty by signing a bill in Georgia that references what is in federal law.” Calling it a common sense thing, he says he is supportive of the issue. However, signing the religious freedom bill may make Bill 375 a “non-issue.”
During the Commissioner’s Meeting for July, several citizens stepped forward to speak about an item on the agenda that one citizen requested be put on.
John Williamson spoke first saying his motivation for the topic was his belief in the country and rule of law. With the recent national attention to Sanctuary Cities and Counties, Williamson says he began wondering if Gilmer has become a “de facto Sanctuary County.” Though no resolution has passed to make Gilmer County such, Williamson began questioning if we are not sufficiently enforcing immigration laws.
Citing the 2014 resolution from the County Commissioners instructing law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, Williamson asked those in attendance if they believed there were no illegal immigrants in the county? With no comments, he pointed that question to the county is not whether we want to enforce laws, but that it is necessary to enforce them in following the constitution.
Williamson also noted effects he’s seen on the County including the Board of Education’s addition of two new ESL teachers due to increases in children requiring the service.
Others spoke at the meeting as well including one citizen who brought up a death on 515, saying the case is still unsolved. He did state his support for anyone from any country moving to our county through the proper paperwork and processes. Offering newspaper cutouts to the Commissioners with Sheriff Reports and notes regarding numerous crime reports involving illegal immigrants, he went on to say that our law enforcement and government services are being added stress through these situations. It is the taxpayers who foot the bill for illegals through these services and crimes involving them.
Still more citizens echoed the sentiments, stating a moral obligation to deal with these situations.
Post Commissioner Dallas Miller commented on the subject reading parts of the resolution he was a part of in 2014. Miller stated the Commissioners have dealt with the issue through that resolution along with the county’s denial to the Federal Government to house illegal immigrants in the county. Chairman Charlie Paris answered citizens questioning the Sheriff’s role saying they should be speaking with him about the level of enforcement and other questions.
Jason Williamson asked the Commissioners if the Commissioner’s Meeting could be used as a venue to speak with Sheriff Stacy Nicholson about the topic. While Paris suggested they make the request of Sheriff Nicholson himself, he did say the Commissioners Meeting would be available as a venue stating, “We would certainly make him feel welcome.”