The Building Momentum of Ban the Box Initiatives

September 21, 2018 by

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently announced the state’s Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will no longer include a checkbox identifying convicted felons on applications for occupational licenses. Signaling a national shift, he also signed an executive order removing the felony question box from applications for state employment.

Gov. Snyder is encouraging private employers to follow suit.

Over 150 cities in 32 states have adopted “ban the box” policies that alter the time at which an applicant’s criminal history is permitted to be an employment (or licensing) consideration. Under these initiatives, such considerations and background checks are delayed until later in the hiring process.

“The continuation of Michigan’s comeback depends on all populations and communities being part of our success,” said Gov. Snyder in a statement. “We have to keep working to reduce barriers to employment, and by modernizing our system to move outside the box, we can offer second chances to many residents who are ready to work and already trained for the exact jobs that employers are desperate to fill.”

According to one estimate, nearly three-fourths of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction that has banned the box.

The city of Austin, along with 11 states, has also mandated the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers.

During last year’s legislative session, HB 91, authored by Rep. James White (R-Woodville) and Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), aimed to have state licensing authorities review criminal history eligibility requirements and recommend retention, modification, or repeal.

The bill was amended in the senate to prohibit political subdivisions such as Austin from passing “ban the box” ordinances that regulate private employers, but the added language was stripped out on a point of order. The licensing review language went into effect and reports are due December 1.

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