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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 10, 2019 12:28 PM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: A Resolution urging the Office of Administration to adopt a "Ban the Box" policy relating to certain State agency employment applications.
“While we can't begin to repay the debt we owe our veterans for their brave service, we can certainly take steps to ease the physical, psychological and financial hardships they may be experiencing.”
. . . . . . . Kirsten Gillibrand

In the near future, I will be re-introducing a resolution urging the Commonwealth’s Office of Administration to adopt a ‘Ban the Box’ policy relating to certain state agency employment applications.

‘Banning the Box’ is a public policy that essentially removes the initial screening question requesting criminal history information from an employment application. The premise behind removing criminal history questions from an application is that it allows an applicant to be judged upon the merit of their qualifications (including military records) and not the vestiges of their past contraventions. To be clear, ‘Ban the Box’ policies DO NOT remove the question of criminal history from the hiring process. Instead, this policy defers the question until the first interview is conducted. It should be noted that the governing or legislative body seeking to adopt such a ‘Ban the Box’ policy has the prerogative to exempt certain sensitive positions from this policy (e.g., law enforcement positions, positions dealing with vulnerable populations, et. al).

‘Ban the Box’ policies are not a new or novel concept. Since 1998, more than 100 cities and 18 states have adopted such policies, including most recently, states such as New Jersey (2014), Georgia (2015) and Ohio (2015). These policies have even been adopted on the local level, including in cities such as Philadelphia (2012), Pittsburgh (2012) and Harrisburg (2015). Lastly, ‘Ban the Box’ policies have been adopted in many forms, including statutorily, administratively, and by way of executive order.

Many of our veterans who have served with honor in combat in the War on Terror, and who seek Commonwealth employment, must answer in the affirmative to a criminal history question, due to a past indiscretion. This one question, without any discernment whatsoever by the Commonwealth, can summarily exclude a decorated veteran with an impeccable service record from ever being a Commonwealth employee. It should be noted that our resolution has the full support of the Pennsylvania Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates (BJS) that more than 90 percent of all prisoners will be returning back to our communities at some point in their lives. Even more compelling, according to a 2011 report issued by the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, it is estimated that 1 in every 10 inmates are veterans. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to do all that we can to create a viable pathway to redemption for our returning veterans and citizens who genuinely seek to become contributing and tax paying members of society.

Not only do I believe that this is sound public policy in the way of reducing overall rates of recidivism in our Commonwealth, it also provides the perfect opportunity for the public sector to lead by example in the way of espousing the virtue of compassion and extending a true second chance to our formerly convicted citizens.

I hope that you will please join me in sponsoring this very impactful resolution.


Introduced as HR516