House advances legislation addressing Supreme Court rule that puts background checks at risk

House advances legislation addressing Supreme Court rule that puts background checks at risk

Excerpted from a Chamber in the News post by Wendy Block

The Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would prevent the Michigan Supreme Court (Court) from implementing a harmful rule that will have significant negative consequences on hiring and housing placements in Michigan. The bill passed by a vote of 69-34.

The Court rule, which was originally set to go into effect on July 1 but was postponed until January 1, 2022, will require Michigan courts to redact all personal identifying information (PII) from public records. In doing so, the Court is effectively eliminating the ability of professional background screening companies to conduct background checks for businesses across Michigan. Ninety-four percent of employers conduct background checks and, in many instances, are required to do so under state and federal law.

Without this legislation or a fix by the Court, employers and other businesses will lack the most up-to-date and accurate information available for employment, housing and other decisions. The Court has said background check companies could use ICHAT as an “alternative” but proposed, unfortunately, ICHAT does not provide the same or even complete information (i.e., it omits certain offenses and pending cases and includes some expunged records).

The legislation being sought protects most personal identifying information (e.g., social security number, national identification number, driver’s license number, etc.) but would ensure that a defendant’s name and date-of-birth continues to be available without delay for employment, housing and other background checks covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

It is important to note that some local courts have implemented the Court rule ahead of the Jan. 1 deadline. Because of this, some employers are reporting major delays in receiving candidate background checks. In fact, some background checks are taking up to 30 days to come back.

Talks with the Supreme Court Administrative Office (SCAO) are ongoing. The hope is to find a workable solution that doesn’t involve legislation. However, HB 5368 is on the move to ensure that an adequate fix is in place prior to Jan. 1, should it be necessary.

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