Missouri Republican lawmakers proposes new bill with new requirements for immigrant workers

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A bill being considered in the Missouri House would create new requirements for immigrant workers.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, has introduced a proposal that mandates private employers to confirm the eligibility of every new employee once they enroll in the federal work authorization program. This bill extends the requirement to private employers, as public employers are already obligated to participate.

Rep. Jim Murphy wants to tackle lower wages and off the books payments

During a hearing in front of a house committee, Murphy explained that this initiative establishes a registry within the state for workers to register.

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Murphy expressed concerns about unscrupulous subcontractors and contractors who hire workers at lower wages and off the books. He em phasized that these practices are detrimental, as they evade taxes and hinder the protection of workers through programs like workers’ compensation. Therefore, proper payment and hiring procedures are essential.

The consequences for violations include a 120-day license suspension for the business, with subsequent violations classified as a class D felony. During the discussion, Bridget Walsh Moore, D-St. Louis, raised questions regarding the necessity of worker registration.

“I mean if no one’s hiring me, then I should be, that should be enough, right? I mean it should just be the businesses because you’re putting the onus of registering on people by, who you said, have limited knowledge of the law who have limited language capabilities who might not know that this is a thing,” said Moore.

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But Murphy responded, “Well if you read this, it’s really, the onus is on the employer to make sure they register.”

Marlon Anderson, D-St. Louis, opposes Murphy’s legislation, arguing that it would have a negative impact on commerce in the state.

“I see some guy like ‘hey I can do mud’ and all that. Like, ‘okay, I’ll give you $200 for the day,’” said Anderson. “How would that affect my business, assuming he’s an immigrant, and undocumented?

“You would be held liable for that,” responded Murphy. “You could lose your license if you wanted to.”

“For one day hiring a person just to mud,” questioned Anderson.

“You’re breaking the law,” interrupted Murphy.

A vote on the bill by the Missouri House Committee on Innovation and Technology could be imminent.

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