Legislation Killed in House Subcommittee Lowering E-Verify Threshold Would Have Reverted to State Law Between 2011 and 2016


A bill that was killed last week in the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee would have reverted to the threshold required for E-Verify in legislation signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam in 2011 and remained in effect until 2016.

Currently, employers are required under state law to use the E-Verify program to confirm work authorization status of their employees, but only if they have 50 or more employees.

During the current legislative session, Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) and Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) sought to set the threshold at 6 employees through HB 0801 and SB 0902, respectively.

Although the bill was killed last week at its first stop in the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee at the hands of five Republicans, The Tennessee Star reported, the proposal would have gone back to a previously-set threshold.

The 107th Tennessee General Assembly’s HB 1378 and SB 1669 was signed into law in June 2011 as Public Chapter 436.

Allowing a minimum of six months for implementation by Tennessee employers, the law called for a phase-in relative to the threshold of the number of employees for which E-Verify was required.

For governmental entities and private employers with employees of 500 or more, the E-Verify requirement went into effect on January 1, 2012.

The E-Verify requirement went into effect for private employers with employees of 200 to 499 on July 1, 2012.

Employers having employees numbering 6 to 199 had more than a year to comply, with the requirement going into effect for those small businesses on January 1, 2013.

That is until Haslam signed Public Chapter 828 into law in April 2016, which raised the threshold for the E-Verify requirement to employers with 50 or more employees that were hired after January 1, 2017.

There were no co-sponsors to Griffey’s and Stevens’ HB 0801 or SB 0902.

However, the 2011 legislation had more than 60 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House. Ten of the Republican co-sponsors and three of the Democrat co-sponsors from 2011 are current members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The 2011 co-sponsors who are still members of the House include Representatives Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown), Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro), John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna), Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) as well as Larry Miller (D-Memphis), Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) and Joe Towns (D-Memphis).

Two of the current members – Powers and Faison – both sit on the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee that killed Griffey’s bill, although both were absent during that meeting.

In the Senate, the only remaining member who sponsored the 2011 legislation is Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).

However, Stevens, sponsor of the current legislation, and Roberts were two of the three Senate sponsors of the 2016 legislation that increased the threshold to 50.

In the House, five current representatives sponsored the 2016 bill that increased the employee threshold from 6 to 50, including Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro), Ron Travis (R-Dayton), Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and now-Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

As The Star reported, there are more than 82,000 small businesses in Tennessee that have between 1 and 19 employees numbering in the hundreds of thousands that have been exempted from the E-Verify requirement.

– – –

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.










Related posts

8 Thoughts to “Legislation Killed in House Subcommittee Lowering E-Verify Threshold Would Have Reverted to State Law Between 2011 and 2016”

  1. Donna Locke

    Mike, you need to understand the meaning of the word “or.” Also, Joe Carr’s useless bill is not the current law. The current law is Jim Tracy’s bill, which replaced the farcical law passed as Joe Carr’s bill years before. Tracy did co-sponsor Carr’s bill and knew what happened to it. Tracy had the conscience to be ashamed of it. Carr misled a lot of people about his bill. The current law, Tracy’s “new” bill, is mandatory E-Verify but only for employers of 50 or more employees.

    1. Mike

      Donna you have no idea what you are talking about and it shows. You don’t go from an enforcement threshold of 6 employees to 50 and say that is “mandatory” unless you are ignorant.

  2. Donna Locke

    I stand by my comment. Read the old law, which was Joe Carr’s bill, and the current law. Back then, lawyers at NumbersUSA read the bill/law Joe Carr sponsored, and laughed and agreed with me and told Joe Carr his bill did not require E-Verify. It was useless. NumbersUSA is the main lobbyist in D.C. for immigration controllers. They know a mandatory E-Verify bill/law when they see one.

    I was talking with Joe Carr when he changed his bill to please the business lobby. He did not even understand the new wording, and this Mike here does not either. Go back to law school if you ever went.

    1. Mike

      Donna you stand by your comment only because you have no idea what you’re talking about. You are ignorant and your referencing Numbers USA only furthers to illustrate that point. I was up there at the time as a lobbyist working hard to defeat the bill on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce. It was FAIR and Numbers USA who assisted Carr in the drafting language which is why we opposed it.

      Numbers USA published this on May 27, 2016 about Carr’s E-Verify Law.
      “HB 1378/SB 1965 – Passed in 2011, HB 1378 requires all public and private employers with more than 6 employees to either use E-Verify or check and retain acceptable work authorization documents. On April 21, 2016, the Governor signed into law SB 1965, which requires mandatory E-Verify use for all employers with 50 or more employees effective January 1, 2017.” The map illustrates that Tennessee repealed E-Verify.

  3. Mike

    The Jackson Lewis Law Firm disagrees with Ms. Locke. The following summary was obtained after a simple google search. It appears Ms. Locke doesn’t know what she is talking about.

    The new law requires employers to enroll in the free, federal, online E-Verify program prior to hiring an employee, verify the work authorization status of the new employee using the E-Verify program, and maintain a record of any results generated by the E-Verify program for that particular employee. An amendment added just prior to the law is passage allows employers, in the alternative, to request and retain one of the following documents from the employee before employment begins: A valid Tennessee driver license or photo identification license issued by the department of safety; A valid driver license or photo identification license issued by another state where the issuance requirements are at least as strict as those in Tennessee, as determined by the department of safety;
    An official birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory;
    A U.S. government-issued certified birth certificate;
    A valid, unexpired U.S. passport;
    A U.S. certificate of birth abroad;
    A report of birth abroad of a citizen of the U.S.;A certificate of citizenship;
    A certificate of naturalization;
    A U.S. citizen identification card; or
    Valid alien registration documentation or other proof of current immigration registration recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that contains the individual’s complete legal name and current alien admission number or alien file number. While this list is extensive, it is less broad than the list of acceptable documents for Form I-9 purposes and, in fact, includes documents that are not presently acceptable under federal law (i.e., certificates of citizenship and naturalization).For Form I-9 purposes, employers cannot specify which documents an employee will provide to prove employment eligibility. Accordingly, any requests for a specific document may be made for compliance with the Tennessee law only. If an employer chooses to use E-Verify, it must do so for all new hires, regardless of whether it obtains one of the listed documents.

    Under the circumstance and the fact it was 10 years ago, it appears Carr was way ahead of his time. Perhaps Ms. Locke should run for office?

    1. 83ragtop50

      Mike – Among the items you list as acceptable proof is:

      “A valid driver license or photo identification license issued by another state where the issuance requirements are at least as strict as those in Tennessee, as determined by the department of safety;”

      I assume that you are aware that MANY states issue a driver license to illegals. What a major loophole.

      I have to believe that the Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbies (of which there are many) are pulling the strings of the subcommittee that killed the bill.

      1. Mike

        When I was a lobbyist back in the day I recall that all the business groups were opposed to Carr’s Bill. The Chamber of Commerce, the Hospitality Association, the Road Builders Association, Farm Bureau to name a few. As I recall at the time there was some uniformity about who could have a driver license. Individuals from states cannot use their drivers license in Tennessee without a birth certificate. I am not defending the bill as a matter of fact I lobbied against the bill when I was up there. My point was Donna Lock’s post was factually incorrect.

  4. Donna Locke

    Laura, this is not correct. The Joe Carr-business-lobby bill that became law did not require E-Verify. It contained an escape alternative for employers so that they could just claim they saw some documents. The employers did not have to verify anything. Jim Tracy, the co-sponsor, knew the bill became a farce and came along in a later session with a bill that became the current law and REQUIRES employers of 50 or more employees to use E-Verify.

    Jim Tracy’s bill, now law, is woefully inadequate, because the small businesses are the big employers of illegal labor, and they skate free in Tennessee.