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Want a business license in West Valley City? Proposed resolution asks employers to check new worker status

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14 2011 6:46 p.m. MST

WEST VALLEY CITY — West Valley City could become the latest municipality to ask applicants for city business licenses to verify the legal working status of their employees.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on an resolution Tuesday, Dec. 20, whether to amend the city's business license applications to determine whether the business is registered and agrees to use a "status verification system to verify federal legal working status of all employees."

The agreement is voluntary but would become part of the license applications for commercial, home, minor home occupation, temporary business and fireworks sales.

West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder said general contractors have told city officials that they have difficulty competing with businesses that hire workers who lack status to work in the United States.

"We want to be a pro-business city but we also want to be a city that upholds the laws of the land," Winder said.

The resolution, as currently drafted, calls for use of a verification system, E-Verify being just one of them.

Winder said he is mulling changes to the resolution to possibly exempt sole proprietors of businesses. The city has about 5,000 businesses and about 70 percent operated by sole proprietors.

"I don’t want to require a sole proprietor to go register for a program if they have no intent of hiring someone new," Winder said. Under E-Verify, employee checks are limited to new hires.

Winder said the city is attempting to strike a balance between encouraging employers to hire people who are authorized to work in the United States but not unduly burden business owners with regulations.

West Valley City was among the first municipalities in Utah to use E-Verify when hiring city employees, he said.

"We're saying for our city, for West Valley City, we'd like businesses to E-Verify or some other system."

West Valley City resident Gordan M. Visser says the proposed resolution does not go far enough. It should require the use of E-Verify, he said, to prevent identity theft. "I would like to see employers use everything they can to protect my kids and my grandkids from fraudulent use of their Social Security numbers."

Moreover, Visser questions whether the resolution has any teeth.

"If they're not (making status checks), what is West Valley City going to do?"

 Contributing: Peter Samore

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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