(April 21) – The House gave preliminary approval today to a bill to break down one of the last strongholds of unemployment in Colorado – former convicts who have paid their debt to society and straightened out their lives, but are unable to get a job.

HB17-1305, sponsored by Reps. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, and Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, would eliminate questions about criminal history from initial employment applications in Colorado.

The bill would not impair an employer’s ability to perform a background check at any point in the hiring process. But it would prevent employers from automatically tossing any job application that includes a yes answer to the question, “Do you have a criminal history?”

“This allows an employer to be able to take an application, look and see if this person meets the skills and the qualifications that they need to fill a position, without having the bias of seeing immediately that this person may have a criminal background,” Rep. Melton told the House.

“This bill is all about economic opportunity and making sure that folks can support themselves and their families,” Rep. Foote said. “There are 1.5 million Coloradans who have criminal histories. Not just felonies – misdemeanors, DUIs, drug possessions from a long time ago. All of these peoples have to check the box. Employers are missing out on people who have a lot to offer.”

After a recorded vote, HB17-1305 will be off to the Senate.

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