“…dismantling existing law to reduce the level of illegality of illegal employment would be a very memorable, Democrat-like sort of maneuver.”
The “Red Tape Roll Back” initiative announced by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones (R) last week is, among other, similar goals, aimed at shrinking state government to make it easier to access business and occupational licenses. This is not a new idea.
“A regulatory environment promoting competition, while encouraging the startup and expansion of new businesses, and taking the heavy hand of government out of the equation is a priority. The reforms the Senate will lead on this year will reduce costs and paperwork while minimizing uncertainty for those who want to start or grow a business in Georgia” says Jones. Again, this is not a new agenda.
The Lt. Governor and Senate members would do well to remember that many of what special interest lobbyists refer to as “outdated barriers to employment and occupational licensing” were put in place to fight the organized crime of illegal immigration. And that despite the silence on illegal immigration in Georgia from the governor’s office, the fact is that only six states suffer more “undocumented workers” than we do.
We hope the Lt. Governor hasn’t picked up the agenda pushed by organizers of the 2021 House Study Committee on ‘Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent.’ If so, in a state where illegal immigration-related laws are already largely treated as inconvenient “barriers” to profit, this should not be regarded as a wise, pro-enforcement move. As this writer wrote here at the time (“House committee on ‘barriers’ skips transparency, continues one-sided agenda”) “taking the heavy hand of government out of the equation” in the 2021 push was presented as “how reducing the numbers of occupations that require a license, eliminating “antiquated restrictions” and reducing training periods … to match regulations in other states…”
The hoped-for result? A less thorough licensing process – and more profit.
With an eye on lobbyist Darlene C. Lynch at the Business and Immigration for Georgia (BIG) Partnership, it is distressing to see that many of the same anti-enforcement organizers of the extremist 2021 effort are involved in shaping the agenda for the 2024 version of “modernizing state occupational licensing requirements” and “strengthening Georgia small businesses.” As she did in the 2021 House study committee, Lynch seemed to play a prominent role in the Secretary of State’s GA WORKS Licensing Commission and the Senate Study Committee on Occupational Licensing. Gold Dome experience says there is little doubt it is also true in the Lt. Governor’s office.
Lynch’s 2021 recommendations included removing the requirement that law enforcement officers be U.S. citizens. She also patiently explained that on “overhauling licensing schemes” …there’s a couple of different ways states are doing it. One is to remove unnecessary immigration related requirements that don’t really matter for that particular profession.” Legislators would do well to familiarize themselves with all of the James Online 2021 House Study Committee reports to fully grasp what may be coming.
The 2023 Senate Study Committee is chaired by Sen. Larry Walker (R- Perry) who did not allow public comment after testimony from a long list of pre-arranged business interest witnesses in the summer meetings. Indeed, this writers written request to provide some expert, pro-enforcement balance went unanswered (committee video archive).
Many thanks to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the public comment period he provided and for the opportunity afforded me to urge that his commission recommend that regs now in place dealing with verification of ‘lawful presence’ for business license applicants be regarded as off limits to “modernizing” the business and professional license system.
While there is no good time to reduce vigilance on making Georgia as unattractive to illegal immigration as possible, even a seemingly minor reduction or elimination of related existing laws would result in making “dollar-first Georgia” even more attractive to the millions of potential future Democrat voter, illegal aliens the Biden administration has moved into the United States since 2021.
As a reluctant denizen of the Gold Dome for most of two decades, it is disturbingly obvious that not many legislators have even a basic level of knowledge of these hard-fought statutes. I offer just one example of recommended reading for all concerned: OCGA 50-36-1, Verification of Lawful presence.
We note that if it is part of the plan, dismantling existing law to reduce the level of illegality of illegal employment would be a very memorable, Democrat-like sort of maneuver.
A version of this essay was originally posted on the subscription news and opinion outlet, “James Magazine Online” on November 15, 2023.