2011 Legislative Session: Reflect on Progress, Refocus on Work Ahead

August 9, 2011

Thank you for your ongoing support and another successful year of advocating for Second Chance’s in Minnesota. With special session behind us I want to make sure that everyone is aware of both the progress made in the 2011 session and challenges that remain as we continue to educate and advocate for public policies that allow individuals with criminal records the opportunity to become tax paying productive members of our communities.

As the legislative session began Coalition members went to work educating the 60 new legislators. Although getting to know new legislators was time consuming it also presented opportunities. Many new legislators arrived with fresh perspectives and without entrenched positions. As a result, the coalition was able to develop new and unexpected allies in our work.

Although the coalition was not ultimately successfully in passing any new legislation we made significant progress in gaining support both for the expansion of the 2009 “Ban-the-Box” bill that would require private employers to remove the question about criminal record from initial employment applications and our juvenile records bill that would have limited access to criminal records of 16 and 17 year old youth.

The expansion of “Ban-the-Box” (MN Hiring Advantage HF1448 / SF1122) received bi-partisan support in both the house and senate. HF1448 received a hearing in the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee and passed out of committee on a voice vote. After opposition for the MN Chamber, the bill was referred to the Commerce Committee and was not granted a hearing. The coalition is actively working with the MN Chamber to clarify and educate its members on the positive economic impacts of this legislation. In addition, the coalition is actively working with local jurisdictions to pass resolutions that require contractors to remove the question about criminal record from initial employment applications.

The Second Chance Coalition also made significant progress with our efforts to limit access to juvenile records. While most people believe that juvenile records are and should be private and very limited in their long-term impact, current law creates a number of situations where juvenile records are public and/or limit the ability of the child to be employed in certain fields for many years or even the rest of their lives. HF0876 / SF0602 would have limited the number of permanent juvenile records. HF0876 made it into the house public safety omnibus bill but, was removed during conference committee.

The Coalition successfully opposed bills that would have limited opportunities for individuals with criminal records. The Second Chance Coalition was instrumental in opposing a bill that would have disqualified criminal offenders from becoming bus and light rail vehicle operators. With the support of Representative Rukavina we were also able to prevent the Higher Education Notification bill from being removed from statute. The Higher Education Notice Act provides postsecondary students in Minnesota with notification and an increased awareness of the possible impact of criminal records on future employment and was passed in 2009 with the support of the Second Chance Coalition.

While progress was made we still have considerable work ahead. The coalition was disappointed that the expansion of voting rights for individuals with felony convictions who are under correctional supervision and the Racial Impact Statement bill garnered little attention. We need Second Chance supporters to continue to participate in Second Chance Day on the Hill, to write letters/email, and make phone calls.

The Second Chance Coalition wants to thank the over 500 people who attend our lobbying day, who visited over 80 legislators, who met with over 30 key legislators and who wrote and called their legislators. We need to continue our efforts and expand our visibility and we look forward to seeing everyone at Second Chance Day on the Hill 2012 on January 31st @ 10AM.

For more information on specific legislation please read below or feel free to contact me.
EMPLOYMENT

HF1448 / SF1122- Criminal history reliance modified for employment requirements.(House Authors: McFarlane ; Mahoney ; Lesch ; Cornish ; Gunther ; Champion ; Hayden ; Leidiger ; Murray ; Peterson, S. ; Lanning Senate Authors: Magnus ; Harrington ; Jungbauer ; Latz ; Wolf )

Representative Carol McFarlane (R-White Bear Lake) and Senator Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) introduced HF 1448/SF 1122 prohibited private employers to inquire or consider the credit history or credit score or criminal record or criminal history of an applicant for employment until the applicant was selected for an interview. Under current law, public employers are not allowed to ask about or consider the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant for public employment until the applicant has been selected for an interview. We received a hearing in the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

HF0876 / SF0602- Court hearing opening modified in delinquency or extended jurisdiction juvenile proceedings. If you are 16 or 17, and charged with any felony-level offense, in Minnesota you will automatically have a public hearing and a public record. This unnecessarily limits the future opportunities of Minnesota youth. (House Authors: Smith ; Woodard ; Shimanski ; Johnson ; Hilstrom ; Gauthier ; Howes ; Champion ; Moran Senate Jungbauer ; Harrington )

BILLS OPPOSED

HF1080 / SF0910 – Metropolitan Council authorized to disqualify criminal offenders from becoming bus and light rail vehicle operators. House File 1080 and Senate File 1090 would allow Metropolitan Council to disqualify criminal offenders from becoming bus and light rail vehicle operators. If passed hundreds of good paying jobs will no longer be available! (House Author: Woodard ; Senate Jungbauer )

HF1087 / SF1053 Nursing; criminal history record check required, and money appropriated. House Chief Author (House McElfatrick) (Senator Sheran)

HF1428 – Emily’s Law established, and age of extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution for violent offenses lowered. A new bill was just introduced that will lower the age for Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile cases from 14 to 13 for a new category of “Violent Juvenile Offenses”. Our current laws adequately address juvenile offenses, and any lowering of ages or creation of new categories of offenses undermines the rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile justice system and does not take into account the developmental differences of children. (House Authors: Westrom ; Nornes ; Franson Senate: Author Hoffman)

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