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June 15: Oregon House Republican News

House Republicans Work to Ban State Government from Hiring Illegal Immigrants

As the federal government expands enforcement of immigration laws at private workplaces, House Republicans today sought an immediate vote on legislation to prohibit the state government and its contractors from hiring illegal immigrants. The caucus moved to withdraw HB 2681 from the House Business and Labor Committee, where the majority Democrats have held the bill without a hearing. While the motion received 30 votes, Democrats squashed the reform for the 2007 session.

"In wake of this week's federal raid in Portland, House Republicans believe both public and private employers should take a hard look at their hiring practices," said Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). "We have tried to work in a bipartisan manner to address this problem, but House Democratic leadership is refusing to take action against state agencies who hire illegal aliens."
Several states have passed similar legislation to block illegal workers, and as a result, their agencies are aggressively verifying the legal status of those on state-funded payrolls. Oregon follows the federally mandated "I-9" process when hiring employees, yet its does not take additional precautions to ensure that illegal aliens are not on the state payroll.

"Other states are way ahead of Oregon in adopting state laws to screen out illegal immigrants in their employment programs," said Rep. Linda Flores (R- Clackamas). "Oregon is lagging behind. We need to set an example with our state taxpayer-funded programs."

Rep. Flores said the Department of Administrative Services admits that Oregon does not match a job applicant's name with the Social Security Administration, and they fail to verify that the drivers' license submitted through the I-9 process matches the name of the person on file at the DMV.

"It's known that Oregon looks the other way, including instances where illegal immigrants are hired onto state-subsidized firefighting crews," said House Republican Leader Wayne Scott (R-Canby). "House Republicans believe it's time for the state to halt the practice of directly or indirectly hiring illegal immigrants."

House Republicans demand action while Democrats continue to advance symbolic immigration legislation for political cover. The House today is scheduled to pass HB 3514 to punish private employers who deduct wages paid to illegal immigrants from their taxable income.
Rep. Tom Butler, Vice-Chair of the House Revenue Committee said the bill was unnecessary, "because sophisticated document forgery keeps employers at a disadvantage, such that the feds seldom charge employers with violations under 8 U.S.C. 1324a(f). There have been no such federal cases ever filed in Oregon."

"If the Internal Revenue Service were to audit a taxpayer and discover illegalities, they would already be taking advantage of federal tools to keep these employers from continuing to engage in such improper employment practices," Rep. Butler said. ......

K-12 Education Budget: On Tuesday the House unanimously approved the 2007-09 K-12 education budget to provide $6.245 billion for Oregon's schools. He also voted to provide new investments in the School Improvement Fund, a school grant program that hasn't been funded since 2001.

SB 684: Regulation of "Going out of Business Sales": By a 35 to 22 vote, the House passed SB 684 to require businesses to file a notice of intent with the Secretary of State before conducting a going out of business sale.

SB 694: Special Rights for Pregnant Pigs: By a 32 to 25 vote, the House passed SB 694 to create a Class A violation for confining a pregnant pig. Pregnant pig owners are off the hook if the pig is 1) being transported, 2) part of a rodeo or state or county fair, 3) being slaughtered, 4) part of lawful research, 5) being examined by a veterinarian, or 6) in the seven-day period before the pig farrows (gives birth).

SB 571: Smoking Ban: By a 38 to 21 vote, the House expanded the workplace smoking ban to bars, taverns, bingo halls and other establishments that are currently exempt under the law. House Republicans tried to pass a minority report to protect charities by maintaining the exemption for bingo halls. Democrats rejected the protection. The new law, which is not effective until January 2009, still exempts up to 25 percent of hotel rooms, cigar rooms, and Native American ceremonies.

To read these bills and view vote tallies, click here.

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