Will the General Assembly reverse the 2018 GDOT carve-out on E-Verify for contractor bids?

Politics, State & National

Written by D.A. King

**note this article ran in Insider Advantage.

In last year’s legislative session Republican state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) introduced legislation that gutted the process intended to ensure that the Georgia Department of Transportation hires contractors that are using a legal workforce. In the haste and bedlam of 2018’s Sine Die, Senate Bill 445 sailed through both the House and Senate.

It is notable that SB 445 went through the Senate Transportation Committee, as Senators Brandon Beach, Butch Miller, Frank Ginn and Mike Dugan were bill signers, in that order. All are transportation committee members — with Beach as chairman.

On SB 445, Chairman Beach made it clear in his committee that “it’s a DOT bill” (professional transcription here. – two-minute archived committee video here).

Now that the cat is out of the bag on this caper- and we have a new governor — one “important issue” for the 2019 session should be to see if lawmakers will reinstate the bidding system for GDOT that all other public employers and their contractors are still supposed to follow.

We recognize many readers will view this as a dry topic – the only folks who may have a concern are those who don’t want their taxes used to pay illegal aliens on GDOT projects.

After mandates were put into place in the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2006 (SB 529) to require all public employers and contractors to use E-Verify, adjustments were made in HB2 of 2009 to deal with the obvious problem that some public contractors were bidding on – and winning – contracts with bids that were based on the cost of black market labor before they swore on an affidavit that they were using E-Verify. This allowed contractors to hire a crew for a job that could not be verified as eligible to work using the E-Verify system, which can only be used for newly hired employees after receiving authorization from the feds to use the online system.

The 2009 solution to this chicanery was to change the law so that bids are not considered unless and until the E-Verify affidavit is presented.

In his quick presentation of the measure, Sen. Gooch told the committee the changes to the GDOT bid rules were being proposed to make life easier for contractors.

“Section 3… makes clear that the deadline for a bidder to supply their signed notarized e-verify affidavit is prior to contract award as opposed to the bid submission. This has caused a problem with some of the contractors that submitted their e-verify affidavits but they didn’t reach to the department either by mail or by other means of delivery in time for the bid, um, deadlines and therefore they were disqualified from bidding on the work. Now essentially requires ’em to submit those E-Verifies prior to the contracts being awarded” said Gooch (emphasis mine).

It is hard to accept that this is a constructive or plausible reason to make changes to the GDOT bidding system, as the existing law is clear that bids and E-Verify affidavits may be submitted electronically. If a contract bidder is indeed an E-Verify user, he can easily send that documentation along with his bid from his computer.

This writer asked GDOT for comment on this curious scenario.  One of the questions asked for verification that SB 445 was in fact a GDOT bill, as Chairman Beach told the committee. That question went unanswered.

This is not the first adventure in state law on E-Verify, bids, and contractors for GDOT.

CBS Atlanta 46 TV News did a series of stories on GDOT’s violations of the bidding/E-Verify law in 2010 that illustrated the lack of concern for the hard-fought mandate designed to make Georgia unwelcoming to illegal employers and illegal labor – and to safeguard taxpayer dollars. We have archived some of those reports:

* “Activist: GDOT Is Breaking State’s Immigration Law – Violation May Make It Easier For Contractors To Hire Illegal Immigrants. Here.

* “CBS Atlanta Asks If GDOT Contractor Is Hiring Illegal Workers.” CBS Atlanta 46 news video here.

* “GDOT Didn’t Know About The Illegal Immigrant Labor Law.” Here.

* “Federal Document Shows GDOT Contractor Lied On Affidavit
Company Swore To Check Employee’s Legal Status in Federal Database.” Here.

* “GDOT: Worker May Have Been Illegal. The Georgia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that one of its subcontractors may have been in the country illegally. The admission came after a CBS Atlanta investigation…” (No link)

* “GDOT Admits Mistake For Breaking Immigration Law: GDOT Commissioner Dodges Tough Questions About Hiring Illegal Worker.” Here.

IAG will follow up on this later in the legislative session, there is more.

You read it here first.

D.A. King is president of the Dustin Inman Society and proprietor of ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com. He has worked on the law featured above since 2006.

Senator Steve Gooch Honors City of Dahlonega

State & National

ATLANTA (January 29, 2018) | Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) is pleased to announce Monday, January 29, 2018, as Dahlonega Day at the state Capitol with Senate Resolution 590.

“Dahlonega is the gateway to North Georgia and I am grateful to be able to share my home with the rest of my colleagues,” said Sen. Gooch. “This year marks the 60th anniversary of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County citizens delivering gold, by wagon, for the installation of the state Capitol building’s gold dome. I could not be more proud to have representatives from our local community here today to celebrate this honor.”

The City of Dahlonega is a small city in northern Georgia founded in 1832. Dahlonega was the site of the first major U.S. gold rush and now is commonly referred to as the ‘Gold City’. The city sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by many natural elements. Dahlonega is the county seat of Lumpkin County. In addition to its history of gold mining, the city of Dahlonega is also known as the Heart of Georgia Wine Country, with six wineries and nine winery tasting rooms.

 

Joint Study Committee on Broadband Access Encourages Participation in Survey

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Candidate for GA 51st District John Williamson points out Tax Increases since 2010

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Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Primary Candidate Forum, Magistrate Judge, School Board, Tax Commissioner, GA House of Rep District 7, GA Senate Dist 51, Fannin Commission Chairman and Sheriff

Politics

Scroll down to watch video of the forum.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce 2016 Primary Candidate Forum.

Cynthia Panter, Chairman Fannin County Chamber Board.

Rob Kaser, Co-Moderator

Fannin County Magistrate Judge

Sherri Walker (I) NP

Dannette Davis  NP

Brian D. Jones  NP

Fannin County School Board

Jeremy Davis  R

Clarence Junior Farmer  R

Chad Galloway   R

Fannin County Tax Commissioner

Shirley Sosebee (I) R

Marie Woody R

Georgia House of Representatives District 7

Speaker David Ralston (I) R

Sam Snider  R

Georgia Senate District 51

Senator Steve Gooch (I) R

Fannin County Commission Chairman

Bill Simonds (I) R

Stan Helton  R

Fannin County Sheriff

Dane Kirby (I) R

Larry Bennett Sr.  R

Johnny Scearce  R

Jack Taylor  R

Rusty Whittenbarger  D

BKP Interview with 51st. District State Senator Steve Gooch

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Georgia State Senator Steve Gooch stopped by Good Morning from the Office. Senator Gooch and BKP talk about the 2016 Georgia legislative session.

Halfway to the Finish Line

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For the People of Georgia

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Georgia General Assembly has completed the fourth week of the 2016 legislative session, and week five is well underway. The days only get busier as we continue to debate legislation, review the budget numbers, and meet with constituents who have traveled to the Capitol to discuss important concerns with us. The last part of the previous sentence is especially significant, because everything I do as your state senator is based on daily calls, visits and emails received by my office.

I recently introduced Senate Resolution 876 because of conversations with citizens and business owners in District 51, and also throughout the state. If approved by the Georgia General Assembly, the resolution would create the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee. The legislators assigned to this committee would be tasked with examining the conditions, needs, issues and problems of high-speed broadband internet access. Economic development, education and health care are areas commonly impacted by reduced access to broadband communications, and professionals from these areas will be asked to share information about specific barriers and concerns. I am looking forward to discussing solutions that will expand broadband internet access and create more opportunities for economic and educational growth in rural Georgia.

The Senate took a stand against family violence by passing Senate Bill 193 last week. Under current Georgia law, a first conviction of family violence batter is only considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor—it takes a second conviction in order to be charged with a felony. Senate Bill 193 amends this law and increases penalties for repeat family violence offenders by charging those already convicted of family violence in another state with a felony.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 199, which clarifies the definition of allowable campaign material at active polling locations in Georgia. Most campaign material is not allowed in or around these locations; however, there has been some confusion about prohibited publications, objects and signs. This bill would provide polling workers with new guidelines about what is considered campaign material.

Last week, we welcomed a number of groups to the Capitol, including members of the Georgia statewide 4-H leadership team and the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation. Thank you for all you do to promote the agriculture industry and educate the next generation of Georgia farmers.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittees met last week to closely review sections of the amended FY 2016 budget, as passed by the House. Subcommittee reports were submitted last Friday, and these reports will be used to draft the Senate’s proposed version of the amended budget. We still have a long way to go before a finalized version will be passed, but this is just the start of a cooperative process between the House and Senate.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have with any legislation this session. I always appreciate and encourage your feedback!

# # # #

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

Getting Started in 2016

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News Release  b: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Gold Dome bustles with energy in the new year as we reconvene for the second session of the 153rd Georgia General Assembly.  I am honored to represent you in the Senate and motivated to serve you at the Capitol in 2016.

I continue to act as Vice-Chairman of the Transportation Committee and join my fellow senators as a member of the Senate Appropriations, Finance, Rules, and Regulated Industries and Utilities committees. My 2011 appointment to the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Overview Committee (MARTOC) remains, as well as my role of Majority Whip in the Senate. Keeping caucus members informed and educated about legislation is a job I take very seriously, so please continue to give me your feedback on the bills up for debate. It is very important that the Senate Majority Caucus fully knows and understands how certain pieces of legislation will affect Georgians.

Governor Nathan Deal boldly set the agenda in his State of the State Address during a joint session held on Wednesday, January 13.  He commended the state for the economic and financial progress made since 2011 and spoke of the true leadership shown through the trials of the Great Recession.  In looking ahead, Gov. Deal prioritized extra efforts in supporting K-12 and higher education, the unemployment rate and transportation.

Gov. Deal heavily emphasized education in his address. He plans to allot $300 million of his 2017 budget to increase teacher pay, $416 million to K-12 education and $388 million to pre-K education. He also seeks to give $17.1 million for technical college grants through the Strategic industries Workforce Development Program and $58.3 million to the Move On When Ready legislation. Gov. Deal believes emphasizing education will decrease our dropout rate, which currently stands at 3.66% per year with 96,660 students failing to finish high school between 2011 and our current school year. He also wishes to drastically decrease the number of chronically failing schools that are affecting approximately 74,000 K-12 students in Georgia. To honor and award our best teachers, Gov. Deal set aside funds to compensate them with a 3% increase in salary.

Along with education, Gov. Deal addressed the substantial decrease in our unemployment rate over the past five years, from 10.4% in 2011 to 5.6% in 2016, and stressed the importance of continuing to lower unemployment rates. To remedy turnover in government jobs, Gov. Deal added a 3% salary increase to all state government employees.

Transportation was another main priority of Gov. Deal’s throughout his address. He praised efforts to increase funding for the paving of roads which resulted in a decrease of thirty years or more between road resurfacings.  In his budget report, Gov. Deal allocated $100 million to the Department of Transportation for repairs and renovations of bridges through the state and over $825 million in new state general and motor fuel funds for transportation in response to HB 170 from the 2015 Session. During a press release held on Tuesday, January 12, Gov. Deal expanded on his plans for transportation transformation, including a 10-year, $10 billion plan to increase toll lanes, add new highways, bridges and roads, and upgrade intersections. Overall, we have a busy session ahead of us as we push these policies and new ideas to fruition and make our state outstanding.

Thank you to all of my constituents for your involvement and constant care for the 51st District of Georgia. You inspire me to continue fighting for our great state and the “American Dream”. Please call or email me with any questions, comments or concerns you have and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

 

 

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