Modest Proposal

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State prisoners would be working in hotels, restaurants and construction sites under a proposal expected to be unveiled at the Legislature next week.

House Bill 2997, sponsored by a number of conservative Republicans, would put prisoners to work to replace illegal immigrants in the hospitality, agriculture and construction industries, among others.

“I’d rather have American citizens working these jobs than people who have no respect for the laws of this nation,” said sponsor Randy Grullen, R-Casa Bromista. “We keep hearing businesses say they need workers. This will provide those workers, at a real bargain of a price.”

Chamber of Commerce officials, who have opposed efforts to establish employer sanctions this session, appeared to be supporting the legislation, which would allow them to pay prisoners just pennies an hour.

“We welcome the opportunity to diversify the workforce,” said April Sloof, lobbyist for the Arizona League of Commerce, Industry and Quality Development Opportunities.

The striker legislation will be introduced through a bill that would have made stucco the official state plaster.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Grullen.

Details to follow…

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