House committee advances work licensing bill
A bill that removes citizenship requirements for licensing for several professions will be favorably reported to the House after it went through the House Executive Committee last week.
Rep. Delia C. Ramirez (D-Chicago) is the House sponsor of Senate Bill 1166, a professional licensing bill. When it was presented to the committee, the bill had 33 proponents and no opponents.
Ramirez said the bill removes citizenship requirements from five licensing laws, including the Illinois Plumbing License Law, the Water Well and Pump Installation Contractors Act, the Illinois Horse Meat Act, the Liquor Control Act of 1934 and the Safety Deposit License Act.
"It also updates the Coal Mining Act and the Illinois Explosives Act to allow legal permanent residents — I'll say that again: legal permanent residents — to work in the industry and qualify for permits to handle explosives used in the industry," Ramirez said.
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-North Aurora) asked for confirmation that the bill helped only those with Green Cards who wanted a license in these industries.
"The language of the bill is just removing sections of requirements?" he asked. "Does that change the intention, like if somebody has a Green Card and they wanted to get licensed? The way the statute is constructed they can't currently apply? But, what about those who are not here legally? Does it offer them the same opportunity?"
Ramirez said the changes to the laws will not allow the same for undocumented individuals.
"You have to be a Green Card holder to apply for these licenses," Ramirez said. "You cannot be undocumented."
Wheeler said the bill is effectively "a clean-up" bill.
"You said the 1970 Supreme Court found these types of restrictions are not constitutional, so in effect, this is a kind of a clean-up bill based on that approach," Wheeler said.
Steven Monroy, a legislative staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said individuals seeking these jobs have two tests, licensing and work permits.
"The individuals that we've encountered that have this barrier are individuals who have legal permanent residency, another kind of VISA or work permit," Monroy said. "They're barred from these industries."