HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sens. Chris Gebhard (R-48) and Devlin Robinson (R-37) to improve enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was voted out of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee yesterday. The E-Verify system, which is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. Despite the Public Works Employment Verification Act already requiring all public construction contractors and their subcontractors to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the legal employment eligibility of new hires, enforcement is weak. To improve compliance, Senate Bill 1147 would make the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 to $1,000, violators would face a fine of $2,500 to $25,000. Senate Bill 1147 would streamline enforcement and reduce the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and make it a punishable offense if they are not. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.