Ahead of a Senate hearing on an E-Verify proposal, a key Republican lawmaker Monday filed potential changes that would significantly narrow a bill that seeks to require immigration checks for new employees.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is scheduled Tuesday to consider a controversial proposal (SB 664) that would mandate all public and private employers use E-Verify, a federal program that checks the legal eligibility of new workers. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, is the strictest E-Verify proposal filed in the Legislature.
Simmons is seeking to exclude farmers and agricultural employers, including those who hire, solicit and transport seasonal migrant workers, from the mandate. Simmons’ proposed changes would also expand the definition of public contractors and subcontractors to clarify that they need to have 10 employees or more to be required to use E-Verify.
Furthermore, the proposed amendment would give extra protection to subcontractors by requiring them to have public contracts that exceed $65,000 before the E-Verify mandate kicks in.
Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, has also filed six amendments to the E-Verify bill ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, including one that would require employers to disclose they use E-Verify in both English and Spanish.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the immigration proposal a top priority during this year’s legislative session. The governor does not support any private business exemptions, according to his office.
Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who is chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, last month pushed members of the party to take a formal position on a resolution backing the governor’s stance. Gruters and state Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, have filed two other proposals that would include exemptions for private employers.