Harrisburg – The Senate today gave final approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) requiring that contractors and subcontractors on publicly funded projects verify that their employees are legally permitted to work in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 637 will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.
The bill requires a public works contractor, prior to the execution of the work, to provide a verification form that ensures the employees on the job are legally permitted to be in the U.S. The verification will be made by checking their employees’ status via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s online E-Verify system.
“This legislation ensures that our workers in Pennsylvania aren’t displaced or kept in the unemployment lines because of cheap labor that isn’t legally permitted to be here or work here,” said Ward. “It only makes sense that a government project which is funded by tax dollars should employ workers who pay taxes.”
The senator noted that the bill doesn’t require that an employee be a citizen, but only that they are legally documented to be here. It mirrors the regulation that the Department of Homeland Security put into effect in 2009 requiring all federal government contractors to verify the legality of their entire work force through E-Verify.
‘”his provides another level of safety for our state and communities in two ways: It will ensure that people who may wish to do harm to our nation don’t slip through the cracks, and it protects our neighborhoods and communities because only qualified workers are on the job,” Ward said.
Penalties range from a warning letter from the Department of General Services for a first violation, to debarment for three years if a court finds willful violation. In addition, contractors and subcontractors face civil penalties of between $250 and $1,000 for each violation.