The Real Reason E-Verify Has Stalled (According to the Senate Communications Director)
I went to the State House tonight (yes, on one of the last nights of the 2008 session) to ask Senate Majority Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed the following questions.
Why, with twenty seven Senate sponsors, had she prevented the E-Verify bill from going to the floor for a vote? And because she did so, it is clear that she prefers that jobs in Rhode Island go to illegal aliens instead of Rhode Islanders and legal immigrants. Why is that?
I roamed the State House for a while, notebook in hand, hoping to catch her walking by. (Both chambers were in a break when I arrived at around 7:30.) I finally gave up and followed the more sensible course of going to her office, where I was told that the Senate Majority Leader was somewhere in the building but not in her office at the moment. She was quite busy as this was one of the last nights of the session but Greg Pare, Communications Director for the Senate, could speak to me …? It was difficult to argue that this would not be a busy night for all legislators. I acceded and asked my questions of Mr. Pare. He responded as follows. (For the record, if she is desirous, I would be pleased to also post any response by the Senate Majority Leader herself to the above questions.)
> First and foremost, Mr. Pare was emphatic that Senate Majority Leader Paiva-Weed was not responsible for stopping the E-Verify bill. The chairman of the committee had asked that it be held in committee for further study.
> Secondly, the chairman had done so because the bill as originally drafted had been determined to be in violation of federal law, which forbids the assessment of monetary penalties by the state for such an infraction.
> Thirdly, the bill would have failed in committee if it had been put to a vote. It was not clear why and I should have asked Mr. Pare to clarify. But if I had opened my mouth at that point, a second round of skeptical words rather than a helpful follow-up question would have come out and I genuinely wanted to let him have his say.
> Yes, the bill could be re-worked so that it did not violate federal law. But this is one of the last days of session and it is a little late to do so.
> Yes, this bill had met exactly the same fate last session. Bills sometimes take years to become law.
> The source of the story that the Senate Majority Leader was responsible for the bill being stalled was one person who called talk radio and his word was being treated as gospel. (I took this to mean that Mr. Pare did not find either the story or the source very reliable.)
Barring any correction or amplification by the Senate Majority Leader herself, this, then, is the official history of E-Verify legislation according to the Senate.
And it looks like we have a correction by the Senate Majority Leader, though not directly from her but courtesy of the Providence Journal. WPRO’s Matt Allen, on air this morning and in comments, points out a divergence between Mr. Pare’s remarks to me and the Senate Majority Leader’s comments to the ProJo as to the proximate cause for E-Verify being stalled :
The only one of the much-publicized plans “to get tough on immigration” — known as the E-verify bill, which requires employers to conduct background checks on the immigration status of new hires — also appeared close to death in the Senate after passing the House weeks ago. Acknowledging its likely downfall, Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed said she had “concerns about the bill in the present form regarding the constitutionality, the hardships on labor, in particular the business community.”