SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary R. Herbert has signed SB251, "Verification of Employment Eligibility," after receiving a commitment from the bill's sponsor that he will work to amend the bill to further clarify its intent.
SB251, sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, is designed to encourage private employers to participate in the federal E-Verify system. Under an agreement negotiated by Governor Herbert, Sen. Buttars will seek to amend the bill prior to its July 1 implementation date to ensure that participation is truly voluntary.
"This bill achieves some very important goals, such as protecting young Utahns against identity theft," Governor Herbert said. "My intent is simply to clarify that Utah's businesses are not mandated to participate in the E-Verify program."
The Governor thanked Sen. Buttars for his willingness to discuss the legislation and explore possible changes to improve SB251.
Said Sen. Buttars: "I look forward to working with the Governor and others on this issue, which I believe is of vital importance to our state."
The Governor met with many parties during his review and analysis of SB251, including representatives from Utah's minority communities.
"This is a difficult issue to address on all sides," said Juan Manuel Ruiz, president of the Latin-American Chamber of Commerce, who met with the governor Wednesday morning. "We appreciate Governor Herbert listening to the minority business community in the discussions concerning this bill and working with the Legislature to ensure that participation in E-Verify is voluntary rather than mandated."
Lane Beattie, President of the Salt Lake Chamber, also thanked the Governor and Sen. Buttars for their efforts to improve SB251.
"This issue was of particular concern to the business community," Beattie said." The inclusion of the word 'voluntary' would alleviate the fears of small business owners and allow dialogue on this important issue to continue."
The introduction of SB251 and ensuing debate has opened the door to conversations on the larger discussion of immigration policy and reform. Governor Herbert hopes that clarifying the legislation and eliminating possible misperceptions about its intent will allow for future progress.
"This is a critical first step to continuing the conversation on this and other issues in the state of Utah," the Governor said. "We have been able to bring the impacted parties to the table, and will take this opportunity to continue the dialogue."