Legislative Coverage

House Committee Approves Worker Permit

A House committee approved a guest worker program yesterday that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a permit to work in Utah. It’s sponsored by Republican Representative Bill Wright, who says enforcement is the federal government’s job, but this is a Utah solution. Several farmers spoke in support of the bill.

(KCPW News) A House committee approved a guest worker program yesterday that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a permit to work in Utah. It’s sponsored by Republican Representative Bill Wright, who says enforcement is the federal government’s job, but this is a Utah solution. Several farmers spoke in support of the bill, including Dave Ure, a dairy farmer in Summit County. He says farmers like him are in serious need of help.

“There’s not two kids in South Summit High school that know which end of a pitch fork to lean on. You cannot hire someone to come work on the farms anymore,” he said. “They might do it for a day. They might do it for a half a day. But after that, it’s gone. This bill has faults in it. But it’s a starting point.”

The bill earned bipartisan support, but some lawmakers, including Republican Representative Dean Sanpei, said it has a lot of problems that need to be addressed later, including a constitutional conflict.

“As I understand this we would essentially be setting up a process here whereby we would say it’s okay to be in the state of Utah while it’s illegal to be in the United States,” he said.

The program would cost the state more than $2 million to develop, but Wright says it will create more than $11 million in ongoing revenue from income taxes collected from guest workers. It would take effect in 2013. The bill passed out of committee 6-to-1 and will now be debated on the House floor.

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