March 16, 2010

D.A. King in the Marietta Daily Journal today: ACCG, GMA lobbying against stronger law on aliens

Posted by D.A. King at 7:42 am - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

D.A. King: ACCG, GMA lobbying against stronger law on aliens

by D.A. King

Guest columnist
March 16, 2010

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Authority are not exactly well-known, household names to the average Georgian. They should be.

They are two of the largest and most powerful lobbying groups in the Georgia Capitol. And neither of them seems to be on the same side of the illegal immigration/illegal employment fight as the citizen majority.

Including the ACLU, MALDEF and Jerry Gonzalez at the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, it would be difficult to find any organizations that are more effective in keeping meaningful punishments for violations out of the 2006 Georgia law that requires local governments and their contractors to use the federal E-Verify and SAVE systems.

Wait until you find out the source of their income. More on that further down.

A brief look at their respective Web sites provides some insight into each group. ACCG: “The Association County Commissioners of Georgia is a nonprofit instrumentality of Georgia’s county governments.” From the GMA Web site: “Our purpose is to anticipate and influence the forces shaping Georgia’s communities and to provide leadership, tools and services that assist local governments in becoming more innovative, effective and responsive.”

The recent discovery of the black-market construction labor working on the Cobb County Courthouse again illustrated the obvious flaw in Georgia’s law intended to ensure that tax dollars are not spent to employ black-market labor. There are virtually no punishments for ignoring the law.

That is not an accident. Let’s be crystal clear on this: the ACCG and GMA are directly and most responsible for the law being weak on enforcement tools.

The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act went into effect in 2007 and required that all local governments use the E-Verify system to be sure they were not paying illegal aliens with tax dollars and to use the federal SAVE system to verify the eligibility of applicants for public benefits.

Even now, there is not 100 percent compliance.

In the 2009 legislative session, House Bill 2 was introduced to amend the language of the original law so that it would have teeth. HB 2 was fought in every step of the long committee process by the ACLU, MALDEF, GALEO and both ACCG and GMA.

A much watered down version of HB 2 eventually passed, but still without any real punishment for violations, thanks to the dedicated and tireless “kill the bill” lobbying from the ACCG and GMA. The other groups’ opposition only creates more “yes” votes.

Currently there are several bills pending under the Gold Dome that would put substantial and effective sanctions into law for the local governments and their contractors who are now treating it as an option.

HB 1164 is a comprehensive fix for the loopholes in the 2006 law that all concerned have so industriously sought out on the original intention of denying Georgia’s taxpayer-funded jobs and benefits to illegal aliens.

“As we continue to deal with declining state revenues and increasing unemployment, we must ensure that every dollar we appropriate is spent on jobs, services, and benefits for Georgians who are eligible,” says Representative Rick Austin (R-Demorest) the bill’s sponsor.

Along with the ACLU, the GMA opposes the bill and will lobby against it in Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. Under pressure, on its legislative tracking Web page, the ACCG has recently changed its “oppose” position to “evaluating” – but is still working to weaken the bill.

Another bill, the Georgia Public Works and Contractor Protection Act (SB 460), authored by Cobb Republican state Sen. Judson Hill, is specifically designed to address the widespread violations of the law illustrated in the Cobb Courthouse construction scandal.

GMA opposes the bill.

I promised to let you know who is providing the funds to pay the salaries of the lobbyists at the ACCG and GMA who work against enforcement of our state law that says we must obey federal immigration and employment and benefits laws.

You are. I am. Both groups are funded by dues paid by member counties and cities. They get the money from taxes paid by the usual victims in illegal immigration – the American taxpayer.

For an example, according to county records, Cobb paid $30,615 to the ACCG in 2008. The city of Marietta paid $$17,023 to the GMA from July 2009 to July 2010.

I am guessing not many readers were aware that they are indirectly paying anti-enforcement lobbyists’ paychecks.

The ACCG can be reached at (404) 522-5022 and the GMA at (404) 688-0472.

Silence is consent.

King is president of the Dustin Inman Society and a 27-year Cobb resident.