Credit has no bearing in hiring, Dems say

Businesses won’t be allowed to use a prospective employee’s credit history in hiring under a bill approved in the Democrat-controlled Colorado Senate on Tuesday.

The highly debated measure drew direct attacks between Democrats who favored the measure and Republicans who didn’t.

At one point in the two-hour debate, Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said Democrats are interested in helping “the little guy” while Republicans are trying to protect big corporations.

“Senator Morse, you are an embarrassment,” Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, said moments after Morse spoke. “The comments that were made at the mic by the majority leader … (he) did impugn the intentions of this body.”

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said businesses shouldn’t discount potential employees because their credit may be bad. In this troubled economy, many people’s credit ratings have been damaged, but that doesn’t mean they’d be poor workers, said Carroll, who introduced the bill that passed on a 20–15 party-line vote.

“Credit reports were never, ever intended to predict a good employee,” Carroll said on the Senate floor. “A credit report is not valid by any study that has ever been done … that ties validity of this practice to predicting your performance on the job.”

Republicans, however, said a person’s credit history is a valid tool businesses use to determine good hires, and they chastised Democrats for trying to tell business what they can and cannot do.

Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said trying to take away that tool is nothing short of “government elitism.”

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, asked when Democrats would stop trying to tell businesses how to run their business.

“This is not a jobs bill, it’s an anti-jobs bill,” Lundberg said. “It reminds me of the 10 most dangerous words in the English language: We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.”

Initially the measure exempted banks, financial services companies and defense contractors, but it was amended to include only defense and security companies.

During debate, Carroll placed waiver forms on each senator’s desk, asking them to sign it to allow their constituents to see their credit report.

King was the only Republican to do so.

The waiver read: “I (senator’s name) give permission to anyone who lives in Senate District (number) to pull my consumer credit report also known as an employee credit report for the purpose of determining my fitness for hire as their Colorado state senator.”

At first, King said he didn’t have a problem with it. Then he said he did.

“I started thinking about the fact that there are people in my district and in this state … who do not wish me or my family well,” King said. “We talked about employers using this in good faith for hiring. That’s one thing. But I worry about signing a document that puts myself and my family at risk.”

The bill now heads to the GOP-controlled House, where it is expected to face the same fate as a similar measure killed in the House Economic & Business Development Committee on Tuesday.

That measure, HB1134, would have barred employers from refusing to hire new workers because they are unemployed. The bill died on a 7–6 party-line vote.



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