Georgia County Government - October 2008 - (Page 79)

Feature Implementation of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act R ecently there have been a number of questions, and some confusion, on at least two points regarding county obligations relative to implementation of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (GSICA). In addition to meeting obligations to verify work eligibility of county employees and to monitor verification requirements of county contractors and subcontractors through the federal E-Verify program, counties must verify the lawful presence, in the United States, of every natural person 18 years of age or older, who applies for “state or local public benefits” administered by the State, or a political subdivision of the State (OCGA § 50-13-1). Where applicable, counties are to verify lawful presence by requiring each applicant for public benefits to execute an affidavit affirming that he or she is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., or a qualified alien lawfully present in the U.S. The affidavit is presumed to be proof of lawful presence until eligibility verification is made through the federal S.A.V.E program. Business Licenses The first area of confusion revolves around what some call county business licenses. Federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1621) defi nes “public benefit” to mean, among other things, “any grant, contract, loan, professional license or commercial license” provided by a local government or the state. Given the foregoing defi nition, some individuals interpret it to mean that counties that levy business and occupation taxes must require affidavits from all businesses within the county subject to the tax. The confusion arises from the fact that some counties and cities that levy business and occupation taxes commonly refer to the levy as a business “license.” Where used, the term “license” is a misnomer. A license is, in effect, permission to do business. Counties, however, with a few exceptions, are not authorized to license businesses. In contrast, counties are authorized, but not required, to levy business and occupation taxes on businesses located within the unincorporated areas of the county, and cities may do likewise for businesses located within the cities. Clearly, collecting taxes from a business is not a public benefit under any definition. (Exception: Counties are authorized to license the sale of alcoholic beverages (Title 3 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated) as well as peddlers and itinerant traders (OCGA 4332-1), taxis or vehicles for hire (OCGA § 36-60-25), and fortune telling and palmistry (OCGA § 36-1-15).) By and large, it is the State of Georgia, through the Secretary of State, that licenses businesses and professions—everything from cosmeticians to lawyers and barbers—not counties. Given the above, there is no requirement in law that counties must require affidavits from all businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county in order to verify immigration status. Counties must verify the lawful presence, in the U.S., of every natural person 18 years of age or older, who applies for “state or local public benefits” administered by the state, or a political subdivision of the state. Welfare, Health, Public Housing and Other Benefits The Federal law noted above also defines “public benefit” to mean “retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefits or any other similar benefit.” This gives rise to a second area of confusion relative to counties. This time it has to do with counties’ roles in providing welfare and similar benefits. Again, with some exceptions, counties do not provide welfare-type services. Instead, it is essentially a State function. While certain benefit programs may be housed in a county building or referred to as the “county” DFACs office, those programs are normally state services and not county services. As such, counties would have no obligation to require affidavits for public benefits provided through state agencies. COMPLIANCE ACT continued on page 80 OCTOBER 2008 www.accg.org 79 http://www.accg.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - October 2008

Georgia County Government - October 2008
Contents
President's Message
County Matters
South Georgia's Agricultural Heartland Welcomes Economic Diversity, High-Tech Research
What Do You Know About the State's 2008 Constitutional Amendments?
Union County's New Hope Clinic
Counties and the Law: U.S. Supreme Court Increases Burden on Defending Age Claims
Cyber Security Awareness
Are Animal Control Costs Out of Control?
Dave Wills Joins ACCG Staff
Executive DRIVE is the Pinnacle of Gwinnett's Leadership Institute
Preventative Medical Program Succeeds in Chatham County
DCA's Planning & Quality Growth Office Reveals New Regional Planning Approach
Implementation of Georgia's Security & Immigration Compliance Act
The Roundabout: Glynn County's Newest Approach to Traffic Management
Governor Urges Preparation for Digital TV Transition
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership
Wharton Named Program Director for Georgia Centers for Innovation
Army Ranger Turned Police Officer Attends CDP Training
ACCG Staff Attends National Conference of State Legislatures Summit
ACCG Editor, Forsyth County PIO Garner NACIO Awards
GDEcD News: Tourism Grants; Scan-Tech to Expand
Benefit News: GEBCorp Marks Eight Years of Retirement Benefits
Georgia's Courthouses and the American Renaissance
Extension News: Georgia 4-H Impacts Student Achievement, Leadership
Research Center: Best Methods for Creating Ordinances in Your County
CCAP Corner: Walter F. Rosso, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County
NACo News: Association Sponsors 'Green' Competitions
Beth Bradley Joins ACCG Staff
County Parade
Index of Advertising

Georgia County Government - October 2008

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