In a nod to second chances, the Minnesota Senate has approved a bill that would bar employers from asking about a person's criminal history on job applications.
The bill, dubbed "Ban the Box" by its supporters, passed Saturday on a 44-16 vote. It would subject private employers to the same rules now applied in the public sector.
Democratic Sen. Bobby Jo Champion of Minneapolis says he wants to prevent applications from automatically being discarded when the criminal history box is checked in the affirmative, regardless of how long ago the offense was or whether it would disqualify a person from the position. His bill carries a possible $500 fine if employers repeatedly violate the proposed law.
An employer could ask about criminal pasts or seek background checks when it selects people for interviews or extends a job offer.
GOP Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen told colleagues that she believes in redemption but saw it as a "feel-good" bill that puts more burden on business.