A bill that would remove what some say is a hurdle for those with criminal histories seeking employment received initial approval in the state House today.
The “ban the box” bill would prohibit many private sector employers from asking about a person’s criminal background on the job application. Employers can still ask about an applicant’s criminal record – but only after an interview is offered. A similar law exists at the state government level.
Democrats say some employers dismiss applications if the box is checked. They argue the measure would help those trying to earn a second chance at life – and would reduce recidivism rates.
“It provides an opportunity for them to have the chance at becoming productive members of society," said Rep. Beth McCann, who sponsored the bill.
But Republicans and many business groups oppose the measure. They decry government intervention into how an employer runs a business.
“This is very anti-business and you’re not going to have the cooperation and the expansion of jobs you think you’re going to have,” said Rep. JoAnn Windholz.
The bill must receive a final vote in the Democratic-majority House before it heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.