A bill that would have stopped local governments – including Lakewood and Pierce County – from using a federal work eligibility program – failed to get votes by late today in the state House, The Associated Press reported.
House Bill 2568 appears to have died. House Democrats spokeswoman Melinda McCrady said lawmakers ran out of time before making final adjustments, the AP reported.
Earlier today, the Pierce County Council unanimously opposed the bill because it would stop the county from requiring its contractors verify their employees can work legally in the United States.
Council members said the system, called E-Verify, works well and the Legislature should let local governments decide whether to use it.
“This is another example of the Legislature meddling in local government,” said council member Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma.
The council took a firm stand against the proposed measure that would have barred local governments from mandating that private contractors use the federal E-Verify program.
E-Verify is an internet-based program that has been adopted by 11 counties and cities in Washington, including Lakewood.
If approved, the bill would have nullified a Pierce County ordinance approved in 2009 that required use of E-Verify by county contractors for their employees and by the county to verify the employment status of its workers.
Council member Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, said the council adopted E-Verify to assure the county is providing jobs only for those legally in the United States.
Muri sponsored the council’s resolution today and the original ordinance in 2009.
The bill says a U.S. government study found several problems with E-Verify, including “the persistence of erroneous tentative non-confirmations” and “the risks of identify theft and employer fraud.” Immigrant advocacy groups and farmers have joined together to support the bill.
The Lakewood City Council also unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 6 opposing the bill. It states: “E-Verify has proven successful in helping prevent identity theft, stolen social security numbers, and serves the citizens of Lakewood by protecting jobs for legal residents and returning veterans.”
Through E-Verify, private businesses can check several federal databases to ensure their employees can work legally in the United States.