Wednesday, January 4, 2012

HBASC: Update on the latest on the new South Carolina immigration law

by Julian Barton, Government Affairs Director
Home Builders Association of South Carolina

Although a federal judge has blocked parts of South Carolina’s new immigration law, sections affecting businesses will still go into effect Jan. 1, 2012. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel left intact a provision requiring employers to use the federal electronic database E-Verify to check workers’ eligibility.

Gergel’s ruling, though, barred the state from enforcing key parts of the law, including: having police check the immigration status of person stopped for even minor traffic offenses if they have “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally; arresting people on charges of harboring or transporting illegal immigrants; and requiring people to carry immigration documents.

Gergel also let stand provisions authorizing the Department of Public Safety to form a 10-officer immigration enforcement unit, and making it a crime for illegal immigrants to sell fake IDs.

Under the new law, businesses are required to enroll in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system “and to verify the legal status of all new employees through E-Verify within three business days.”

Failure to enroll in and use E-Verify to check out new hires will result in probation for the employer, either with suspension or revocation of the firm’s business licenses, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. However, LLR has promised to work with employers the first six months of the year to help them in the transition to e-verify without fines.

In addition to completing and maintaining the federal employment eligibility verification form — commonly known as the Form I-9 — all employers must within three business days after hiring a new employee verify the individual’s work authorization through the E-Verify, a free Internet-based system maintained by the federal government. Employers may no longer confirm a new employee’s employment authorization with a driver’s license or state identification card!

The database generally provides results in three to five seconds, officials say. If the information matches, the employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there's a mismatch, E-Verify will alert the employer and the employee will be allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem. If no resolution results, the employer must rescind the job offer. 

To enroll in E-Verify, go to

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fannie, Freddie to raise mortgage guarantee fees to fund payroll tax break

Included in the two-month extension of the payroll tax break passed by Congress was an additional fee on mortgages guaranteed by agencies under the supervision of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The additional .1 percent fee will be added to the existing average .26 percent fee already collected on all new mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The new fee will take effect on April 1.

The fee increase is expected to add $15 to the monthly mortgage payment of a new $200,000 30-year mortgage, or $5,400 over the life of the loan.  The new fee was part of a package that lowers the payroll tax on wage earners by 2 percentage points through February 28.  The payroll tax break has been in effect since January 1, 2011.  Congress is expected to further extend the payroll tax break through December 31, 2012.

LA Times: Record low mortgage rates have not rescued housing

Real estate experts commenting for an article in the Los Angeles Times, including Freddie Mac and Mortgage Bankers Association executives, commented that historically low interest rates are not enough and that mortgage applications fell in 2011.  Could it be the problem is in the big housing markets like Los Angeles?

Read the entire article in the LA Times by clicking here.

South Carolina Department of Commerce To 11 Accomplishments in 2011

South Carolina Department of Commerce released its list of top 11 accomplishments for 2011:
  1. Continental Tire the Americas - $500 million investment to generate 1,700 new jobs over the next 10 years. 
  2. TD Bank - $17 million investment creating 1,400 new jobs. 
  3. 5-STAR USA - investing $25 million and creating more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years. 
  4. Bridgestone - $1.2 billion investment, which will result in more than 850 new jobs. 
  5. Amazon - investing $25 million and creating 750 jobs. 
  6. Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s - $313 million investment to generate 707 new jobs. 
  7. TIGHITCO Inc.- $30 million investment that will generate 350 new jobs. 
  8. ZF Group - investing an additional $80 million and adding 300 new jobs. 
  9. Bosch Rexroth Corporation - $80 million investment and creating 160 new jobs over the next five years. 
  10. Gestamp South Carolina - investing $51 million and creating 100 new jobs. 
  11. BMW added a $100 million investment and committed to create 100 new jobs.
Note that half of these announcements are in the Upstate.