Senate committee kills bill to limit credit checks by employers

March 25, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella | lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

A proposal to ban employers' use of credit histories to screen job applicants or to fire workers has been rejected by a Maryland Senate committee, dampening chances for a similar measure under consideration in the House of Delegates.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 6-5 Wednesday against the bill, which would not have applied to financial institutions or businesses required by law to check credit.

Proponents, including consumer and worker advocacy groups, have said credit checks by employers are an unfair barrier to employment and result in a cycle of joblessness for those who end up with tarnished credit after losing a job.

Some business groups, including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, have opposed efforts to limit credit checks that they contend are a valuable screening tool.

On Thursday, the House Economic Matters committee was still reviewing the bill that's similar in intent to the failed Senate measure and had yet to vote. But the Senate panel's action "probably means that's it for this year," said Del. Dereck E. Davis, the House committee chairman and a Prince George's County Democrat.

Davis said members of his committee had been trying to craft amendments to address concerns about the ability of financial institutions to check the credit of employees, but much work remained and the session is winding down.

"Clearly we're concerned about it, but I have a lot of questions," Davis said.

Nonetheless, efforts are under way to keep alive the House bill. Del. Kirill Reznick, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the bills, said he continues to be hopeful about chances for the bill, which he said has drawn a good deal of support from members. It has about a dozen co-sponsors.

"It's going to be difficult," Reznick said. "As much support as we have gotten and is on the committee right now for the bill, it will be difficult knowing the Senate Finance Committee has acted on a similar bill."

But "nothing is impossible," he added. "All things being equal, we have a good shot."

Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz contributed to this story.

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