A few of my favorite parts of a holiday picnic are: kids running through sprinklers, very cold watermelon, crispy hot dogs, and the Charlie Daniels Band blaring over the speakers.  (yep, the devil went down to Georgia … he was looking for a soul to steal …)  I do not intend to equate the devil with immigration reform, but keep reading so that you can make your own decision.

Last week, Georgia law makers enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which will change the requirements for doing work on construction public projects in Georgia.  The existing law (OCGA 13-10-91) already requires a contractor bidding or contracting with a public owner to provide an affidavit attesting that:

  1. it has registered with and is authorized to use E-Verify;
  2. the contractor’s user ID number and date of authorization; and
  3. it is using and will continue to use E-Verify throughout the contract period for all newly hired employees or subcontractors. 

First and second tier subcontractors are also required to register and participate in E-Verify to verify info of all newly hired employees.  Notice of the identity of any new subcontractors on the project is required to be sent to the owner within five business days.

The new law extends the affidavit requirement to all tiers of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, including suppliers who contract with a sub or sub-sub.  A fourth  requirement is added to the affidavit form: (4) the contractor will contract for the work only with subcontractors who present an affidavit with the same info as the contractor’s affidavit.  This additional requirement applies to the affidavits from subs and sub-subs.  Instead of sending notice of the identity of new subs, you send affidavits from the new subs.  The language indicating it applies to "newly hired employees and subcontractors" has been deleted, so now it applies to everyone.  Obviously, the idea is to require the public owner to collect affidavits from everyone working on the project that they are verifying employee info through E-Verify. 
So what, fellow Charlie Daniels Band lovers?  Public owners face funding cuts if found to be in violation of the new requirements, so they will be taking it seriously.  Contractors face penalties only if they "knowingly and willfully" make false statements in an affidavit, but are not held liable for unknowingly or unintentionally accepting a bid or contracting with a sub who violates the requirement.
The effective date for these changes is July 1, 2011.  The way the statute is written, it apparently applies only to new bids and contracts after the effective date.  It says a public employer shall not enter into a contract for work unless the contractor participates in E-Verify, and shall not consider a bid unless it includes the new affidavit from the contractor.  Also, a form of affidavit is supposed to be posted on the website of the Dept of Audits and Accounts by August 1, 2011, a month after the effective date of the statute (none posted yet).  This indicates the new affidavit requirements only apply to bids and contracts after the effective date of July 1, 2011.  Therefore, for public contracts already signed and underway, it appears that you keep doing what you were already doing.  But it is worth confirming with the owner rep on ongoing projects. 
There is another portion of the new law that requires all businesses with more than 10 employees to register with and use E-Verify as a condition of getting or renewing a business license or maintaining licensure status under state licensing laws.  It is phased in over a couple of years, first becoming effective Jan 1, 2012 for employers with 500 or more employees.

Image: may wong