BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1075
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
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02:26 PM -- House Bill 09-1075
Representative Middleton, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 09-1075 concerning expansion of criminal history employment disqualifications for employees of the Department of Human Services. Under current law, new Department of Human Services employees and contractors who have direct contact with vulnerable people are required to pass criminal background checks. The bill expands this requirement to all new employees and contractors of the department. It also eliminates the requirement that the department contact previous employers of the top 3 candidates for positions that have direct contact with vulnerable people.
In addition, the types of offenses, if less than 10 years have passed since conviction, that disqualify a person from employment are expanded to include the following:
- felony drug offenses;
- misdemeanor offense of unlawful sexual contact; and
- all class 2, 3, 4 and 5 felonies.
The bill requires all department employees to inform their supervisors within 48 hours of any arrest, charge or summons for disqualifying offenses.
Representative Middleton discussed the bill and prepared amendment L.001 (Attachment B). Two other amendments were proposed, but not ultimately offered. Representative Middleton acknowledged that further work needs to be done on the bill and a lengthy discussion ensued regarding the problems with the bill and the best way to proceed with considering it. It was determined that the individuals present would be allowed to testify on the bill as drafted and further testimony would be heard at a later date about any amendments that are drafted in the meantime. The committee discussed the employment of individuals who were at one time incarcerated versus the protection of vulnerable populations. Representative Middleton and Representative McCann had a conversation about the need for a statutory change in order to do more comprehensive background checks.
02:53 PM -- Carol Peeples, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Peeples established her credentials as an expert in the subject of offender re-entry into the community. She opposes the blanket prohibition of hiring individuals with a criminal record. She believes the bill is unnecessary, it presents unreasonable barriers, and
02:58 PM -- Tammy Bellofattto-Sundberg, Felons Regaining Equal Employment (FREE) Coalition, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Bellafatto-Sundberg shared her experience trying to gain employment as an ex-felon. She played voicemails from a recent set of job interviews. She was not able to secure a second interview for a job for which she was qualified due to her criminal record.
03:01 PM -- James Schulz, private citizen, spoke in opposition to the bill. Mr. Schultz distributed written testimony to the committee and read from his prepared remarks (Attachment C). He stated his belief that the bill, as drafted, is overly broad.
03:06 PM -- Christie Donner, CCJRC, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Donner distributed a list of suggested amendments to the bill (Attachment D). She stressed that the bill does not merely expand background checks, but rather expands the means to disqualify individuals with felony records from employment with the Department of Human Services. She talked about a population that is struggling to get a job and keep a job in order to transition back into the community and reduce recidivism. She stated her belief that current law is sufficient and bill is unnecessary. The committee discussed the incongruity between the bill and current statute concerning the sealing of criminal records.
03:13 PM -- Carmelita Muniz, Colorado Association of Alcohol and Drug Service Providers, spoke against the bill. Ms. Muniz expressed her concerns about the inclusion of drug felons in the bill. She stated that the bill is overly broad and wondered what this bill will do to youthful offenders who have a drug or alcohol problem.
03:15 PM -- Maureen Cain, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, spoke against the bill. Ms. Cain discussed the state of laws across the country regarding the sealing of criminal records. Criminal justice policy is tending toward reducing for recidivism by offering employment to ex-offenders. She shared her experience in defending individuals in a domestic violence situation who get a deferred judgement.
Representative Levy announced the bill would be laid over to Monday, January 26, in order to give the sponsor time to have amendments drafted. The committee introduced themselves to each other.
Representative Levy adjourned the committee.