Gov’t shouldn’t ban questions about crimes

Our state government has been rather busy of late working on legislation that tries to tell private businesses how to operate.
Nov 19, 2013


The most recent example comes in the form of House Bill 4366, which would prohibit both public and private employers from asking about criminal history on initial application forms.

Reasons behind the proposal come from an honest and altruistic place. Let’s give former convicts a chance to get past initial employment screening so they can share their merits and positive attributes, and properly explain their past behavior to the potential employer, in person.

But the reality is, this law, if enacted, would simply add another layer of work on already busy human resources and hiring managers. When there are two good candidates with equal experience, and one happens to have a criminal record, the person with a clean record is nearly always going to be the winner.

While state and federal laws exist to protect people with criminal records from employment discrimination, it’s rather apparent that these individuals face extra obstacles to employment. Those obstacles will be in place no matter whether the criminal background is revealed sooner or later.

The only difference is that now employers will have to make the extra effort later in the process to weed out individuals they don’t feel — given their past exploits — are a good fit for the business.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this legislation. They suggest an alternative – that legislators consider a law that would incentivize the hiring of people with criminal records by eliminating liability to employers.

Legislation to this effect has been approved in other states, including neighboring Ohio. It seems that such laws give opportunities to those who have paid their debt to society and are seeking a better path in life.

Considering a similar law in Michigan would seem to be a logical approach to the apparent intent of giving those with criminal records a fighting chance at good jobs.

Providing a positive reward for doing the “right thing” is a way to create real change. That is far preferred over the state government’s recent approach of adding handcuffs and blindfolds to businesses to try to force them into doing something that may or may not backfire.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Seems disingenuous. So what if they don't put it on their application, this is the internet after all. You can find out anything about someone, they have sites for that...look them up.
More work piled on someone, (just not by the employer this time) just sounds so rough...


The story focuses on Michigan, but as with so many of these contentious issues, digging a little deeper reveals this is more Obama federal government heavy handedness. The Obama administration is pushing state and local governments to virtually eliminate criminal background checks because they have a disparate impact on black employees and applicants and thus violate the Civil Rights Acts because so many African-Americans have been convicted of crimes. Companies have been sued for money damages by Obama's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)for conducting criminal background checks.

Michigan should take into account a recent Federal Judge's ruling against the EEOC in a Maryland case when a family owned company was sued by the EEOC when it started using background checks after being a victim of embezzlement, theft, drug use and workplace violence. The Judge characterized the EEOC's evidence as “laughable,” “distorted,” “cherry-picked,” “worthless” and “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty.”

The result of this policy is that if anyone actually gets to contact an Obamacare "Navigator" they have no idea if they are talking to a felon, a fraud, an identity-thief, or other because Obama decided not to run background checks on the Navigators before they were empowered to take all of your personal information.


Cue Lanivan's irrational retort.


Haven't heard from her - hope she and hers are O.K.,


the solution is simple...don't get in trouble. If you do, you deserve to loose out on a job to someone that has not got into trouble. Its a matter of trust. And why is the government getting into private sector matters.

Tri-cities realist

Regarding your last question, the same could be asked about health insurance. The answer: progressives and liberals think they know what is best for you.


No, cons(ervatives) and tea partiers know whats best for everyyone and would love to control what happens in your bedroom, your body, poison you with food (Monsanto buddies), keep you stupid (what have they ever done to help you personnally), lie to you, do drugs while making foodstamp recipients take drug tests, shut down the gubmint and cost us billions, etc. They definately know what' best for us ALL.


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