The Republican-controlled House Commerce Committee approved a bill that would force all public employers and their contractors to register with E-Verify, a federal program that verifies the legal eligibility of workers.
The bill would not require other private businesses to use the system unless they apply for taxpayer-funded incentives.
Proposals in the House and Senate include exemptions for private employers, a potential compromise to address anger from business lobbies that are some of the state’s biggest political donors.
Bill sponsor Cord Byrd says implementing E-Verify will help legal workers.
“Floridians shouldn’t have their wages depressed by cheap, illegal foreign labor. Assuring a legal workforce through this verification system promotes fair competition, protects taxpayers, places upward pressure on the wages of Floridians and promotes the rule of law,” Byrd said.
Opponents of the measure, including Representative Al Jacquet, feel the bill is unnecessary.
“Legislation that may be politically postured has real consequences on real lives and real dollars. That affects our economy,” said Jacquet.
Years of attempts to pass an E-Verify bill have failed in the legislature, but the push for a verification plan this year has been given a political boost by Governor Ron DeSantis, who campaigned on the issue in 2018.