Moody rejects county E-Verify proposal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Attorney General Ashley Moody has weighed in about whether a county can require businesses to use the E-Verify system to screen potential illegal workers before the businesses can get proof that they have paid taxes.

The answer: no.

“This office has concluded in prior opinions that the Legislature has the ‘exclusive prerogative’ to regulate the levy and collection of the local business tax … and that local governments are prohibited from modifying existing regulation,” Moody wrote in an opinion dated Wednesday.  

Moody added that nothing in state law authorizes counties to require compliance with the federal E-Verify program before issuing tax receipts to businesses.

Currently, Florida requires state agencies, but not private businesses, to use E-Verify.

A measure proposed in the Legislature this year that would require private employers to use the program has stalled.

Moody released the opinion after receiving a letter from the Brevard County Commission asking if the county could enact an ordinance on the issue.

Moody said the county cannot pass such an ordinance because “no general law authorizes” it.