A Senate panel has approved a bill aimed at requiring companies that contract with the state use a federal Internet-based system to check employees' work eligibility.

Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, sponsor of HB257 pointed to identity theft as the reason for requiring employers use E-Verify to check the name, Social Security number and birth date of new hires.

However, the vote by the Senate Business and Labor Committee came after Sen. Carlene Walker, R-Cottonwood Heights, raised concerns about the program's accuracy. She pointed to Swift & Co., which used E-Verify, yet was targeted in a multi-state immigration raid in 2006, including at the company's Hyrum plant.

"There are so many holes in the system," Walker said. "Legally they did what they were supposed to be doing, and they still lost millions of dollars."

Herrod responded that Swift & Co. may have been subject to an immigration raid anyway, but he credited E-Verify with protecting the company from criminal charges.

Hb257, which recently passed in the House, now moves to the full Senate. Its provisions are included in SB81, a comprehensive immigration bill that could be up for final Senate approval today.

One key difference, HB257 would be effective this year, while the similar E-Verify provision in SB81 doesn't take effect until next year.