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House immigration bill devastating to the Mississippi business community

January 27th, 2011 Comments off

A Mississippi House bill passed Thursday afternoon places the burden of responsibility for illegal immigration on the employers of the state

Thursday’s 80-36 vote came after a short explanation and no debate.

The bill would also allow law officers to check people’s immigration status during traffic stops or other encounters.

POLL QUESTION: Are you for a new House bill that is tough on immigration in Mississippi, but also tough on business employers?

However, the business community has now been placed squarely at the forefront of the immigration debate as the House bill calls for fines of a minimum of $5,000 per day per employee to a maximum for $25,000 per day per employee.

And that applies to small and large businesses as well as everyday citizens, who might have an undocumented housekeeper or lawn service worker.

Businesses found to have broken the law would lose all tax breaks and incentives provided for them and a clawback provision would force previous offenders to pay back money already credited to them over a period of time.

“Illegal aliens are not coming to Mississippi to sell drugs,” David Norquist (D-Cleveland) said Thursday afternoon. “They are here to make money and send that money out of Mississippi and back to Mexico to support their families and the economies of the towns the families live in.

“What we have here with this bill is the penalties have to outweigh the risk of hiring illegal aliens,” Norquist continued. “If employers weren’t hiring illegal aliens, there wouldn’t be an illegal alien issue in Mississippi.”

With the shift of emphasis from law enforcement to Mississippi employers, the bill would make a fund in which all of the fines, from $5,000 to $25,000 a day, would go to re-imburse officials enforcing the law.

This leaves Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in a precarious position as this bill moves into the Senate.

Does Bryant back the bill, which is tough on immigration?

Or will Bryant back the business community and water down or kill the bill?

On the enforcement side, the state auditor will have the authority to chase offenders, which leaves open the possibility of Howard Industries having to pay back more than $3 million in incentives after a human resources manager was charged after a sweep saw 595 illegal aliens placed on administrative arrest. Of those arrested, nine were charged criminally with aggravated identity theft and ultimately pled guilty to federal identity fraud charges.

Pro-business organizations, like the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Mississippi as well as BIPEC (Business and Industry Political Education Committee) are certain to take a hard stand against the bill.

Meanwhile, organizations like the Tea Party are likely to support the bill as hard on illegal immigration.

(UPDATE) Barbour, Gang of Six can’t halt Choctaws’ casino

July 20th, 2010 Comments off

(UPDATE) — In a story published on our website this morning, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says there is no legal basis for the state to block a casino proposed on Choctaw tribal land in Jones County.

To read complete story click here.

—– (FROM TUESDAY, JULY 14) —-

Without getting into the political or moral issues of gambling, I understand why Gov. Haley Barbour and so many others don’t want the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to develop a proposed casino on tribal land in Jones County.

As most of you know by now, Gov. Haley Barbour and his “Gang of Six” Republican statewide elected officials have asked the Choctaws to withdraw plans for the casino, which would have 500 to 700 slot machines. It would be a $17-million investment, employing about 250 people.

The officials sent a letter to the Choctaws’ chief, Beasley Denson.

Those signing it with Barbour were Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Treasurer Tate Reeves and Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell.

At the heart of the legitimate argument is the proposed casino has nothing to do with the way Mississippi has historically defined casinos as a “destination place”.

The Coast, Tunica County, Neshoba County as well as other locations along the Mississippi River fit that description, which is to provide other amenities, “such as a golf course, water park, and restaurants needed to ensure the developments are consistent with state policies,” as was stated in the letter from Barbour and the Gang of Six.

It’s a fair argument.

The problem is there appears to be no legal leg to stand on, and that’s exactly what the state House Gaming Committee said.

Democratic Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto has articulated that, saying Mississippi has no authority over whether the Choctaws move forward with the casino.

Moak says courts have upheld a gaming compact that then-Gov. Kirk Fordice signed with the Choctaws in 1992.

So, while Barbour and the Gang of Six may have one good argument in their bag, they will have to appeal to the Choctaw leadership on a different level in order to prevent legal gambling from surfacing in Jones County.