Yesterday marked Day 7 for the 2011 Georgia Legislative Session. While the state budget and taxation reform will dominate this Session, immigration legislation and water policy will have a long-term impact on all Georgia businesses.
Several immigration bills have been introduced in the Senate (SB 3, SB 7 and SB 27) and the House (HB 87)*. SB 3 and SB 27 require public employers to use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify service to screen all newly hired employees and subcontractors. SB 7 prohibits the payment of workers compensation benefits to aliens not lawfully admitted for permanent residence. House Bill 87 is modeled after the Arizona law passed last year. It is the most comprehensive of the immigration bills and requires private employers to use E-Verify, provides for investigation of illegal alien status and allows law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
Governor Deal’s commitment to address north Georgia’s water supply issue was highlighted last week by the Department of Natural Resources Board’s nearly unanimous vote last Wednesday to approve new regulations governing interbasin water transfers. The new rules include environmental and economic standards to be considered by the EPD. Interbasin water transfers have been a very contentious issue for rural areas which fear the Atlanta region will take their water resources.
Finally, it is worth noting some changes for two important House committee chairmanships. Rep. Terry England will be chairing the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. John Meadows will be chairing the Rules Committee.