Deseret News
FILE: State lawmakers are considering a bill to extend the effective date of a controversial immigration reform package passed in 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — A controversial immigration reform package the Utah Legislature passed five years ago can't take effect next year without federal permission.

Because the state hasn't received that waiver, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said lawmakers must either repeal the laws or extend the effective date. HB237 proposed to take them off the books, but the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee amended the bill Wednesday to extend the effective date to 2027.

"We as a state had good reason for putting this in place and I think we still do," said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper.

The package includes a state guest worker program and other immigration provisions, some of which a federal court shot down. Lawmakers in 2011 delayed the implementation date three years and extended it again to 2017. None of the plans were put into practice.

The legislation requires the Utah State Tax Commission to create a parallel tax system for the guest worker program because undocumented immigrants can't legally pay income tax. The commission would have to do that in 2017 at a cost of $5 million unless the bills are repealed or extended, Bramble said.

SB237 now moves to the Senate floor.

— Dennis Romboy