Senate committee passes Gebhard and Robinson bill to improve fairness in construction industry

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HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by the senses. Chris Gebhard (R-48) and Devlin Robinson (R-37) to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was rejected by the Senate Committee on Labor and industry today.

The E-Verify system, which is administered by the US Department of Homeland Security, determines the eligibility of employees, whether US citizens or foreigners, to work in America.

Although the Public Works Employment Verification Act already requires all public construction contractors and their subcontractors to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the legal employment eligibility of new hires, the app is weak.

“Hiring unauthorized workers and paying them lower wages gives construction companies an unfair advantage, as these reduced operating costs can translate into lower bids, costing companies that follow the law.” said Gebhard. “Our bill aims to more effectively penalize bad actors to level the playing field.”

To improve compliance, Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 to $1,000, offenders would face a fine of $2,500 to $25,000.

Senate Bill 1147 would streamline enforcement and reduce the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to pre-register with E-Verify and make it a punishable offense if they are not.

“Companies with strong business ethics should have every opportunity to participate in public construction work,” Robinson said. “Enforcing the E-Verify system ensures contractor employees are eligible and authorized to work in the United States, resulting in better business practices. Senate Bill 1147 will create a fairer construction, and I am proud to sponsor it with Senator Gebhard.

The bill is now sent back to the full Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Matthew Urban (Office of Senator Gebhard), 717-787-5708

Elizabeth Weitzel (Senator Robinson’s office), 717-787-5839

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