The Committee took account of the comments and suggestions at the public hearing with respect to support for the visitor industry. The new bill recognizes that the Commonwealth needs to support the visitor industry, help it grow out of the current economic slump, and make sure it prospers in the future. Without a successful visitor industry, the Commonwealth will not have the good jobs for citizens and permanent residents in other sectors.
The new bill helps the visitor industry in four principal ways.
Room to grow under the moratorium. A business in the visitor industry that has met the 20% requirement for employment of U.S . citizens and permanent residents earns an exemption under the moratorium. This means that businesses in the visitor industry can hire new foreign national workers as replacements for existing foreign national workers or for new positions. New businesses in the visitor industry are given a grace period of one year to meet the 20% requirement. This recognizes that it may take a new business some time to recruit and train local residents.
A major new development involving an investment of $1 million or more is allowed an exemption from the moratorium to allow for large construction projects.
Incentives for filling good jobs with citizens and permanent residents. A business in the visitor industry that substantially exceeds the 20% requirement for local hiring in professional, managerial, human resources, office or administrative assistant, secretary, cashier, front desk receptionist, tour guide, boat captain, and sports and recreation positions can earn an exemption from the 20% requirement for other jobs such as room cleaner, janitor, custodian, security guard, gardener, dishwasher, waiter and waitress, and other unskilled jobs. This system promotes hiring of local residents in good jobs and allows businesses substantial flexibility in hiring for unskilled jobs so that they can remain competitive.
Incentive reductions in paperwork. A business in the visitor industry that has met the 20% requirement for local hiring over the previous two years is presumed to be doing a good job of local hiring and is exempt from the requirement to provide a manpower plan.
Speedier and less costly processing for foreign national workers. The new bill also includes provisions to make the processing of foreign national workers speedier and less costly. The Labor Department will gradually shift over to a system of on-line filing of the necessary paperwork