State Capitol News
9:46 pm
Tue March 25, 2008

Senate panel tweaks employer sanctions law

Phoenix, AZ – A Senate panel voted Tuesday to make some changes in the state's new employer sanctions law. But Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports some controversy remains.

The law that took effect Jan. 1st allows a judge to suspend or
revoke the business licenses of firms that knowingly hire
undocumented workers. Some changes approved by the Senate
Appropriations Committee narrow the law, like allowing punishment
only for workers hired since the beginning of the year. But
lawmakers have not removed one provison businesses find
objectionable -- allowing anonymous complaints. Sen. Bob Burns
said he understands their concerns.

(It's a method that can be used to retaliate against whoever. If
we had nothing more than freedom of anonymous complaints
throughout the system, I mean, look at all the opportunities that
would be there for people to sort of use government to beat up on
somebody they didn't like. And that happens unfortunately.)

But Rep. Russell Pearce, the architect of the original law, said
anonymous complaints are legitimate.

(If I have two people doing a drug transaction. And I'm not close
enough to see the drug. But everything I can see I can tell it's
a drug transaction. And I call in. Am I going to limit that kind
of citizen's response when I see what appears to be criminal
activity? The county attorney, the police department has to make
that determination.)

And Pearce said no firm can lose its license unless a prosecutor
proves it knew the people it was hiring were not here legally.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.