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House Could Scrutinize E-Verify Plan Next Week

the florida house of representatives
Governor's Press Office
The Florida House has yet to consider an E-Verify proposal that is one of Gov. Ron DeSantis' top priorities.

As the 2020 legislative session dwindles down to the final weeks, the Florida House has yet to consider an E-Verify proposal that is one of Gov. Ron DeSantis top priorities.

But House Speaker Jose Oliva told reporters on Thursday that the proposal may be heard in committee next week.

“We want to see what comes over from the Senate, but it is possible next week to see some movement on that,” Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said.

A Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill (SB 664) that would require all public and private employers to use E-Verify, a federal program that checks the legal eligibility of new workers.

The bill includes language that would give employers the option to use a “substantially equivalent” system in lieu of E-Verify, a provision that Sen. Tom Lee, the sponsor of the measure, said “guts the bill.”

The governor told reporters on Thursday that he remains confident the Republican-dominated Legislature will send him an E-Verify bill, as he has requested.

The Senate bill has one more committee stop before it can head to the Senate floor, and Lee has vowed to make it stronger.

The revision would likely remove the option for employers to use a system that is not E-Verify, a provision Lee agreed to add “in the spirit of compromise” during Tuesday's Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meeting.

Oliva has been skeptical about the E-Verify measure for some time, and has expressed concerns about making Florida private employers a “policing arm for a part of government.”

An E-Verify proposal in the House, sponsored by state Rep. Cord Byrd, currently exempts private employers from the mandate.

Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, told The News Service of Florida he plans to make changes to the private business requirements in his bill, but would not provide details about the changes.