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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 4:56am

English-Only License Tests Up In House

A bill that would mandate Georgia driver's license exams for permanent residents be given only in English is expected to face a vote in the House Wednesday.

The legislation's sponsor, Rep. James Mills, says the current policy of allowing drivers tests to be administered in 14 languages poses a safety hazard since road signs are printed in English. The Gainesville Republican's bill makes an exception for immigrants in the country on temporary visas. But it places a 10-year limit on such temporary licenses.

Opponents of the measure say it would discourage economic development from foreign countries. A similar proposal last year failed to become law.

From activity out of Tuesday's Day-11 of the General Assembly: Governor Nathan Deal says he wants to do more research on a program employers can use to verify if their workers are legal. The system, E-Verify, is managed by the Department of Homeland Security. Some state Republican lawmakers want to require all employers in Georgia to use it in order to ensure they hire legal workers.

Governor Deal isn't yet sold on requiring E-Verify, and says he needs to look into it further.

"We don't want to become an undue burden on those who are trying to do the right thing. If E-Verify is a viable source of determining status, and that's what it's intended to be, then I think it is a legitimate way of trying to determine what you're really asking and that is, are you actually authorized to work here in the United States."

But business leaders and Georgia farmers worry that requiring E-Verify would cut into farm labor and devastate Georgia's agricultural sector.


Susanna Capelouto

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