State Senator Wants to Bar Illegal Aliens from Comp

Published on

December 1, 2006

A South Carolina state senator says he plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit illegal aliens from collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

“My bill is a very simple bill,” Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia, told WLTX television. “It says that if a person applies for workman’s compensation, they must show that they are a legal citizen.”

The television station did not give any details about the proposed bill, but it won’t be the first time a South Carolina state lawmaker has tried to take illegal aliens out of the state’s workers’ compensation system. In February 2005, state Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Seneca, introduced a broad reform bill that contained a provision that would have banned benefits to illegal aliens, but the measure failed.

Frank Knapp, director of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said if Knotts’ intent is to reduce costs to the workers’ compensation system, his legislation should include a requirement that employers of illegal aliens must pay for their medical care if those workers are injured on the job.

“The burden can’t just solely fall on the worker. If a business is hiring illegal aliens, they are also culpable,” Knapp said.

Knapp said there also has to be some provision that allows employees to seek reimbursement of premium in cases where workers are denied benefits because of their immigration status.

“You can’t accept premiums on somebody and then say ‘Thanks for the premiums’ and then don’t provide coverage,” Knapp said.

Knotts sits on the Small Business Chamber’s board of directors, but Knapp said that senator did not seek his group’s endorsement before announcing the legislation.

Knotts could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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