OLYMPIA – Many businesses would be banned from asking prospective employees about a possible criminal record when they first fill out a job application under a bill that received approval Tuesday by a House panel.
The legislation, known as a “Ban the Box” bill, would prohibit many employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal convictions and sentencing until after making a determination that he or she may be otherwise qualified for the job. Certain jobs would be exempt, including those that include unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults, financial institutions required by federal law to ask about a criminal record, or law enforcement agencies.
“It’s important the people who have paid for their crimes be given a second chance,” Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, said.
Before sending the bill to the full House, the Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment that would have required all local laws be consistent with the new statute and repeal any that aren’t. Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, the sponsor of the amendment, said a business shouldn’t have to worry about labor rules changing from city to city, and predicted without that provision the bill ultimately won’t pass.