Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state from asking about someone’s criminal background during the early phase of the hiring process.
“While worthy in its objective, this bill poses numerous obstacles in practice,” Rell wrote in her veto message. “And for all its obstacles, it is uncertain that any benefit will accrue to previously convicted applicants.”
The bill mandates that the state not inquire about past convictions until a prospective employee has been “deemed otherwise qualified” for the position. That language was good enough for Rell’s Republican colleagues in the House who joined Democrats in passing the bill this past April.
Rep. Selim Noujaim, R-Waterbury, said he initially opposed the bill, but ended up voting in favor of it after helping to craft some compromise language. Initially Noujaim said he didn’t think it was fair to offer a job to a person before a criminal background check was done.
After the House vote in April, Noujaim said giving something to a person then taking it away would hurt their feelings, so he helped draft an amendment that would have the criminal background check done before the conditional offer was made.
He said it will allow for the background check to be done before the person is offered the job.
Rep. Timothy O’Brien, D-New Britain, said back in April that the bill would only apply to state employees that don’t fall under a list of exceptions, which includes law enforcement agencies and licensing of mortgage lenders.
“This gives somebody who has straightened their life out a real chance of showing what they can do,” O’Brien said.
Connecticut would have joined the cities of New Haven, Hartford, Norwich, and Bridgeport in banning the box if Rell had decided to sign the bill.
Rell also vetoed an Act Concerning the Long Island Sound and Coastal Permitting
and an Act Concerning the Regionalization of Certain Public Safety Emergency Telecommunication Centers and a Study of Consolidation.
To date Rell has vetoed 12 bills and signed 159. The legislature will hold a veto session on June 21 where it will decide whether to override some of Rell’s vetoes.