4/22 – Smyrna-ViningsPatch – Local state rep is happy unemployment benefits extended, unhappy with immigration bill.

Smyrna Legislator Reviews Recent General Assembly – Smyrna-Vinings, GA Patch.

Local state rep is happy unemployment benefits extended, unhappy with immigration bill.

State Rep. Stacey Evans is happy that unemployment benefits for Georgia were extended on the last day of the legislative session that ended last week.

“There are many families in Cobb County who have lost their jobs and are still trying to find a new one,” said Evans, D-Smyrna.

The unemployment measure, House Bill 500, would adjust Georgia’s eligibility requirements to allow the state to receive additional federal unemployment dollars. “I’m glad we were able to address that on our last day.

Evans said she was disappointed by passage of House Bill 87, which is designed to stiffen immigration enforcement in Georgia by requiring businesses with at least 10 employees to use a federal work-eligibility verification system.

If signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, the bill would also allow local and state police to check immigration status when people are detained for other legal infractions. The bill would also increase the penalty for using fake identification to get a job to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

“The bill isn’t right for our state, and it’s an issue that I wish the federal government would tackle,” said Evans, who voted against the bill. “If you want to solve the problem of illegal immigration, you go to the root of the problem, which is an abundance of jobs for undocumented workers. If there are no jobs for undocumented workers, they won’t come here in the first place. We need to focus on those jobs that could instead be going to those people who are here legally.”

The controversial immigration bill was co-sponsored by State Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna.

It first cleared the Georgia House of Representatives on March 3 by a 112-57 margin. Last Thursday, the last day of the legislative session, the Georgia Senate approved an amended version of the bill that the House passed later in the evening by a vote of 112-59.

Though Deal has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill, as a congressman, he opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, authored legislation that would have ended automatic citizenship for babies born to parents who are in the country illegally and voted against allowing unauthorized immigrants to obtain certain taxpayer funded services. During the health care reform debate, Deal wrote an amendment restricting access to health insurance for illegal immigrants.

If signed into law, H.B. 87 will expand the use of the federal E-VERIFY system, a federal Internet database designed to verify employment eligibility. The legislation also encourages law enforcement agencies to participate in partnerships with federal agencies for the purpose of more quickly and efficiently identifying and transferring illegal aliens and allows greater opportunities to prosecute those who knowingly harbor or transport illegal aliens.

Democratic lawmakers have widely criticized the bill claiming, among other things, that H.B. 87 legalizes racial profiling.

Golick told The Marietta Daily Journal that “under no circumstance would police be able to simply inquire about someone’s immigration status at the officer’s discretion.’’ Instead, only when an officer believed there were probable cause that a crime had been committed, and when the individual failed to produce proper identification, would an attempt be made to determine the individual’s immigration status.

“Georgia has more illegal aliens than the state of Arizona, and my understanding is that recently released Census figures indicate that the state with the fastest rate of growth of illegal aliens over the past decade was Georgia,” Golick told the MDJ. “This has had a draining effect on our dwindling resources, especially given the economic recession.”

Evans did support Senate Bill 10, which allows cities and counties to hold a referendum on whether to allow retails sales of alcohol on Sundays.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “And it’s really an issue of fairness. We have restaurants and bars who sell alcohol on Sunday, and the time is past to address this issue.”

– Patch Editor Kristi Reed contributed to this story.

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