Growing Iowa’s economy is a significant priority for Senate Republicans. Our pro-growth caucus focused the last three years on passing policies intended to help strengthen the economy, increase the workforce and encourage job creators to expand or move their businesses to our great state. They are working.

The job climate has changed significantly in Iowa. This shift is a change from Iowans asking where are the jobs to job creators constantly in search of more workers. And, we need workers to continue to grow our rural communities, metro areas and state as a whole. However, it is imperative expanding our workforce and increasing career opportunities across the state is done responsibly and within the rule of law. If it is not done in that manner, it is possible workers could be put at risk for employers who might seek to gain an unfair advantage by relying on a workforce that is not permitted to be employed in the United States.

The Iowa Senate advanced a bi-partisan bill this week, which would require Iowa employers to use a federal web-based resource to confirm potential employees are eligible to work in the United States. The federal e-verify program is available in all 50 states. It is operated on a voluntary basis unless a business holds a federal contracts or subcontract. Then, the business is required to use the federal e-verify system. More than 3,300 Iowa currently use e-verify voluntarily.

Under the bill, Senate File 516, employers would be required to use the federal e-verify program to determine an employee qualifies to work legally in the United States. The legislation also creates a criminal penalty for employers who knowingly hire undocumented employees. The penalties, under the bill, would be a temporary to permanent suspension of their business license as well as repayment of economic development money if it is determined a company employed undocumented workers.

The Department of Workforce is the enforcement agency in this bill while the Secretary of State’s office would be tasked with tracking Iowa employers and e-verify registrations through the federal government program.

It is vital we continue to advance policies that are responsible, forward-thinking, anticipate future growth. This is how we maintain growth today and in the years and decades to come.

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