Minn. Senate passes bill to eliminate 'are-you-a-felon' box on job applications

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A bipartisan bill that would prevent private employers from asking applicants about their criminal histories was passed by the Minnesota Senate Saturday in a 44-16 vote.

The "ban the box" measure would eliminate the "are-you-a-felon" question on most employment applications in an effort to give ex-felons a better chance to be considered for jobs, the Star Tribune reports.

The exception includes employers who are prohibited by law from hiring certain offenders such as nursing homes and hospitals.

Democratic Sen. Bobby Jo Champion of Minneapolis tells the Associated Press that he wants to prevent applications from automatically being discarded when the criminal history box is checked in the affirmative.

The bill is designed to give applicants a chance to explain their pasts to prospective employers during the interview process.

Supporters argue that an estimated one in four Minnesotans have some form of criminal history and barring them from employment could hurt their rehabilitation efforts, the Pioneer Press reports.

A similar bill is also expected to have success in the state House.

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