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House panel passes bill curbing day labor

Day laborers and those who hire them would face criminal charges if they disrupt traffic under a bill approved by a House committee Jan. 21.

The bill, H2042, would make it a misdemeanor for employers to stop in a roadway to hire a day laborer if the vehicle impedes the normal flow of traffic. The prospective employee would also face a misdemeanor.

Each could face a maximum of 30 days in jail for the offense.

“It takes two to tango, and it’s important that we go after both with equal zeal,” said Rep. John Kavanagh, the bill’s sponsor.

Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills, has sponsored similar legislation since coming to the Legislature. A bill identical to H2042 passed the House last year, but was lost in a crush of bills that were debated on the Senate floor at the end of the session. An earlier version was vetoed in 2007 by former Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The bill is modeled after a Phoenix ordinance that was aimed at stopping roadside solicitation for charitable donations, Kavanagh said. Although critics alleged it infringed on First Amendment rights, a federal court found the ordinance was constitutional.

But that challenge never raised the issue of “content-based discrimination,” which Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said this bill appears to do.

“I have no doubt that once it’s reviewed by the courts, it will be found unconstitutional,” said Rep. Ben Miranda, a Phoenix Democrat.

But Kavanagh said likened the enhanced penalty in this instance to an aggravating factor, like those that change an assault charge into an aggravated assault.

He also said that the bill is intended to protect workers – whether in this country legally or illegally – from unscrupulous employers who don’t provide benefits or guarantee a safe working environment. But he didn’t deny there was a link to illegal immigration.

“This work is one of the anchors that keeps them in this country,” he said.

The bill was approved by a 5-2 margin, with Democrats voting against it. It now moves to the House floor for a debate by the entire body.

On Jan. 20, a Senate committee approved a more comprehensive bill to crack down on illegal immigrants. It included penalties for acts similar to the Kavanagh bill.

One comment

  1. I live in California, ground zero and the welfare state for illegal aliens.
    Employers who hire illegal aliens, want them in this country to exploit them.
    Illegal aliens lower wage and work standards. For the most part, illegals work under very dangerous conditions.
    Unfortunately, there are no government statistics to show the number of illegal aliens who are killed and maimed at work.
    A few years ago, a landscape subcontractor picked up an illegal alien off the street to trim a 75 foot palm tree, not far from where I live. He did not give the young man a safety device and as a result, the unfortunate fellow plunged to his death.
    The subcontractor picked up his equipment and departed, leaving the body for a passerby to find.
    The newspaper said that the dead man had a brother. I am sure there was a meager settlement with the brother our of court, which made him rich in his country of origin.
    I am delighted to know that something id being done in AZ to curb illegal alien day labor. I consider it a new form of slavery.

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