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· November 30, 2012

Two big problems with Ohio Senate GOP anti-immigrant bill

Yesterday, I told you about SB 323 a bill that is a solution in search of a problem. Today, let’s talk about why it isn’t even a very good solution. To recap: The bill is sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz a Cincinnati-area Republican. It would prohibit undocumented workers from receiving worker’s compensation benefits. There are two huge problems with this aside from what was discussed earlier. First, the bill imposes a huge new regulatory burden on the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, by requiring BWC to make a determination on each applicant’s immigration status.  BWC would  have to make the kinds of immigration status determinations that are often aggressively litigated up and down the federal court system for months or years. It will have to do so without any additional funding or training because the bill provides no additional resources to BWC. Second, the bill makes it harder for workers to get compensation when they are injured on the job. Under the bill, as part of the process of proving their eligibility for workers’ compensation, all injured workers will have to include what is essentially an affidavit that they are authorized to work in the United States. This new burden will be imposed on all applicants, but the administrator of the BWC can also request additional proof from some of them if he or she believes that the affidavit is not valid. Now, let’s be honest about who this is going to impact – after all, how many white, English-speaking applicants with European-sounding names are likely to have their legal right to work in the U.S. questioned? One man who was actually testifying in favor of the bill inadvertently illustrated the problem with the proposed system when he admitted that it would “open up the [BWC] administrator to charges of racism.” Yesterday we documented that Seitz himself can’t even show that there is a need for this legislation. That fact along with these two (perhaps) unintended consequences ought to be enough evidence that this lame duck bill needs to be put out of its misery.  

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