Backer agrees to weaker bill on credit history, hiring

DENVER — Despite being watered down, a bill that would bar employers from using prospective employees’ credit history in determining new hires wasn’t met with universal favor in the Colorado Senate on Monday.

The measure, SB18, is designed to help shield laid-off workers from being barred from getting another job just because they have a poor credit rating thanks to the recent recession, said Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, who sponsored the bill.

To win more support for it, however, Ulibarri agreed to a number of exemptions, including new hires for jobs that deal with financial matters.

Under the measure, employers still can use a person’s credit history in considering them for positions that deal with money, such as cashiers, payroll, government contracts and most management positions.

That still wasn’t enough for some lawmakers, however, who said government had no right to tell businesses who to hire or how they should go about finding the best person for the jobs they are offering.

Doing so will only cause them to hire fewer people, said Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial.

“Every time we pass a bill in the Colorado Legislature that causes businesses to have more red tape, more restrictions, more rules that they have to operate under, that causes business to have increased costs in doing business,” Balmer said. “It causes businesses to scratch their heads and say, ‘Should I have my business in Colorado or should I move my business to Wyoming or Utah?’ “

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, disagreed, saying employers need to be able to know a person’s credit history in order to determine if they would be reliable workers.

“We talk about using every tool in our toolbox to make sure that we get good, credible employees that we can count on,” he said. “This restricts employers from having the right to go and look at such things as credit reports to see if these people that want to go to work have had problems.”

Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said many people lost jobs because of the recession, and their credit histories may not be as good as they should be.

As a result, they shouldn’t be further penalized by making it harder for them to get a job now that the economy is starting to bounce back, she said.

“For those who lost a job and are desperately trying to get back to work, it is a very real barrier to getting re-employed to have your credit report used as a basis for denial of employment,” she said.

The measure requires a final Senate vote, which could come as early as today, before heading to the House.



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