BOISE – One of three immigration-related bills introduced in the Idaho Legislature this session was killed in committee Thursday, as lawmakers questioned the idea of suspending business licenses to punish businesses for hiring undocumented workers.
Athol Rep. Phil Hart, a third-term Republican who co-sponsored the bill, told the Idaho House State Affairs Committee he wants to eliminate any incentive for undocumented immigrants to come to Idaho to seek work. “The United States is a magnet for those people, and they’re coming across the border in droves,” he said.
The bill, HB 497, also included misdemeanor penalties for using false identification to secure employment; and misdemeanor and felony penalties for falsifying records for someone else to use for employment.
The bill was opposed by the Food Producers of Idaho, the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Retailers Association, the Idaho Community Action Network and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.
Two other immigration bills still are pending in a Senate committee. One seeks to penalize employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers and ban driver’s license tests in any language other than English. The other penalizes the use of false documents for employment.
Brent Olmstead, lobbyist for an array of farm and business groups that oppose all three bills, said, “This is a federal issue.”