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A bill designed to deter businesses from hiring illegal immigrants appears dead after a House panel opted not to vote on the proposal.

Members of a House labor subcommittee decided to take no action Monday on the bill, which established punishments for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The measure had been sponsored by 27 Republican lawmakers.

Under the proposal, an employer in violation could have lost its business license and been forced to fire all illegal immigrant workers. Iowa contractors and businesses would have joined 27 other states that run employee documents through a federal electronic verification system.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Greg Forristall, of Macedonia, declined to hold a vote on the measure, saying he feared it would be costly for state and local governments to enforce.

Iowa House panel drops illegal immigrant bill