Senate passes bill to help convicted criminals land job interviews

ban the box.jpg
mlive.com
A bill approved by the Senate would make this box disappear from most job applications.
On Saturday, in a 44-16 vote, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill intended to make it easier for convicted criminals to land job interviews.

SEE ALSO: MNGOP Sen. Dan Hall suggests gay marriage supporters are unpatriotic

The so-called "ban the box" bill would require most private employers to follow the public sector in eliminating the box on applications asking applicants to disclose whether they've ever been convicted of a crime. Roughly one-quarter of Minnesotans have been.

Employers could still ask applicants about their criminal record at interviews, but the bill would make it more difficult for employers to weed out applicants prior to the interviewing phase.

The bill received bipartisan support and wasn't opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, though a faction of conservative Republicans spoke out against it.

One of them, Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, tried but failed to amend the bill so that "ban the box" would only apply to criminals whose convictions happened more than a decade ago.

"If they come out of prison the day before, are you saying, employers shouldn't know before the interview?" Hall said, according to the Star Tribune.

Another opponent, Julianna Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said the bill amounted to "feel-good legislation" that "doesn't accomplish anything except to put brand-new regulations on Minnesota businesses," MinnPost reports.

But most senators agreed with Sen. Bobby Joe Champion's argument that if an applicant "shows the qualifications and skills," they deserve an interview.

"Those who have offended will have a greater opportunity to become responsible and taxpaying community members," Champion, a Democrat from Minneapolis, said, adding that "there's nothing that says an employer is bound to hire anyone that they don't quite feel comfortable with."

A companion bill awaits a vote in the House. About 40 states already have some form of "ban the box" on the books.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.

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7 comments
TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

Hmmm, no mention that Senate Republican Roger Chamberlain wrote the bill for Bobby Joe?  

Yes, Chamberlain introduced to bill and asked Bobby Joe, "have you had enough time to reviewed the bill we prepared for you? I know its only been a coupe days."  Bobby Joe said, "yes I have and I can speak on the bills behalf".  

But hey, give the credit to whoever you wish.  Most readers here are not politically savvy, not even remotely. 

Anyway, it's a good step.  As with guns, intensive background check should never be used.  No need predict a persons future actions, by past actions.  

elkhart
elkhart

This is a good step. You can't judge people's character by a single action. I was shocked when my grandpa told me he helped lynch a black man in the 50s. He showed me the newspaper clipping. It took me a long time to forgive him, but it was a different time and people thought very differently back then. Same with these convicts. They thought differently when they committed the crime. They've obviously changed their thinking if they're trying to get a job. 

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

this is the best!  i am not a felon but could be...


now if we can get landlords to stop their bullshit--- 

Adam Klugherz
Adam Klugherz

Good... once you've served your sentence the penalty is supposed to be over...

sjohansson0105
sjohansson0105

@digitalprotocol @elkhart On the contrary, it's essential to share stories like that one. We all love and care for people who (either admittedly or not) have done terrible things. We need to allow for redemption if we believe in a criminal justice system that rehabilitates offenders. Thanks elkhart - I had a grandfather who was a great man in many ways but harbored deep homophobia linked to a time when he was a young boy and sexually assaulted by a man. His feelings gradually changed even as he approached death and he came to love and respect several gay members of my family. People are complicated, but one thing we all need is forgiveness.

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