The Minnesota House of Representatives passed “Ban the Box” legislation this week requiring private employers to only ask about criminal records once they have been selected for an interview.
The bill, Senate File 523, passed on a strongly bipartisan vote of 107-26, with 35 Republican Representatives joining all 75 DFL Representatives present in support. Now it will head to the Governor’s desk for his expected signature.
Minnesota will be only the third state to expand ban the box to private employers. With this legislation Minnesota is taking a national leadership role and great step forward in ensuring that people will be evaluated initially based upon all of their current skills and qualifications, not just their past.
Employers will benefit by opening the initial step of their hiring process to a larger, potentially more qualified, and diverse pool of applicants; those who have offended will have greater opportunity to become self-supporting and fully-contributing community members; and Minnesota will benefit by developing a workforce that is employed to its full potential, both now and into the future.
The success of this legislation is the result of many people working very hard for many years. This work at the Council began as an outgrowth of our Racial Disparities Initiative research. The Council worked with the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul which adopted ban the box in 2007.
We later joined with others to form the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition (www.mnsecondchancecoalition.org), which was instrumental in building broad-based support and making this happen. Minnesota’s business community offered guidance on how the change could be made in a way that works best for employers. And finally, the bill’s chief authors, Senator Bobby Joe Champion (Minneapolis) and Representative Tim Mahoney (St. Paul), provided excellent leadership, as did the many co-authors and other legislators from both parties who put politics aside to make Minnesota stronger, safer, and fairer.
And of course, thanks to you for your support of the Council and this work.
Mark A. Haase
Council on Crime and Justice
822 South Third Street, Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55415