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City Council Agrees on Ballot Language for E-verify Vote

The ballot language for the E-verify proposal was settled at a city council meeting Monday. While it passed with a 7-2, vote some still believe the proposal leaves out significant information about its cost.  KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.

If passed, the bill would require local businesses to check the work eligibility of future employees with the E-verify system.  Council members went over three different proposals, settling on one that does not address the bills possible cost.  Vince Crunk is a spokesman for the city.

“The biggest difference in substitute number 2 and substitute number 1, there was what some people might call a fiscal note attached to substitute number 2. But that note simply said that the cost of this was unknown. Because they did not know what the cost of this particular option might be to the city or to anyone else and there was a note to that effect, part of substitute number 2,” says Crunk.

Some council members felt that it would be fair to leave the fiscal note off of the ballot since many other ballots don’t include such information.  According to Jerry Wilson, spokesman for the Ozarks Minutemen, knowing the cost of the proposal is not needed for voters to make a decision.

“That is because the primary cost would be if anyone challenges the bill in court.  Those cost, would consist of legal cost and legal fees to go to court.  Any bill can be challenged. In fact, the smoking ordinance was challenged in court. The alcohol in theaters ordinance was challenged in court,” says Wilson.

 President of Grupo Latino Americano, Yolanda Lorge says her group has no intention of taking the matter to court if it passes. However, she says it is likely that someone will.

“Parts of it are unconstitutional. Like the city fine, the fines and cost to businesses,” says Lorge.

A $500 dollar fine is possible for a business owner who is caught employing anyone who is not eligible for work.  According to Wilson, the fines will affect the owner only after his or her second offense.

 “It’s not until the second violation that someone could potentially be fined.  So if someone does challenge this, you are talking about a second time offender. The first time they were notified they fixed the problem, no problem. Now the second time… they got caught once and they’re doing it again. So you have to wonder at a business that would get caught once and go right back and hire illegal aliens again,” says Wilson.

The vote will take place February 7th. You can find a link to read the ballot at KSMU.org. For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes. 

To read the E-Verify Ballot click here.