HARRISBURG – Sens. Devlin Robinson (R-37) and Chris Gebhard’s (R-48) bill to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was approved today by the Senate.
The E-Verify system, which is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. 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. However, despite these requirements, the practice of hiring unauthorized workers continues due to the enforcement mechanisms being weak.
“Implementing the E-Verify system will ensure contractor employees are eligible and authorized to work in the United States, resulting in better business ethics,” Robinson said. “Creating a fairer construction industry in Pennsylvania will attract new employers and help boost our economy, therefore I am proud to sponsor it with Sen. Gebhard.”
To improve compliance, Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 – $1,000, violators would face a fine of $2,500 – $25,000. Senate Bill 1147 streamlines enforcement and reduces the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and makes it a punishable offense if they are not.
“The current penalty is so small that it’s not a deterrent for companies that aren’t motivated to follow the law on their own. Unfortunately, until it starts to hurt their business, the illegal practice will continue. That’s why our bill is so important; it would finally add some teeth to the law,” Gebhard said.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Elizabeth Weitzel (Robinson), 717-787-5839
Matthew Urban (Gebhard), 717-787-5708