Vote Tracker

House Approves Ban the Box Act for Higher Education

The House has passed Senate Bill 13 by a party line vote of 25-15-1. The bill would prevent colleges from asking prospective students about their criminal history during initial application or admissions process. Republicans don’t believe in second chances or redemption, ever. Even though most of them profess to be Christian.

Sponsored by Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown and Sen. Marie Pinkney, Senate Bill 13 would prevent Delaware’s higher education institutions from asking prospective students questions about their criminal history during the initial application process or the admissions process except in limited instances.

Under SB 13, known as the Ban the Box Act, Delaware colleges and universities would be required to replace blanket questions about criminal convictions on student applications with more targeted questions about convictions for stalking, sexual assault, other sexual offenses, and similar crimes.

After accepting a student for admission, higher education institutions would still be allowed to request a student’s criminal history to make decisions about their participation in campus life or whether supportive counseling is required. However, the school must consider the nature and gravity of the student’s prior conduct, the amount of time that has passed since any conviction, the age of the student when the incident occurred and any evidence of rehabilitation.

Additional information also may be sought after the admissions process if a student’s criminal history is relevant to licensing and certifications required in their career field.

SB 13 is similar to Ban the Box legislation passed in 2014 that prevents public employers from asking applicants questions about criminal records before making a conditional job offer. The Delaware General Assembly also passed multiple bills in 2019 to expand access to adult expungements and modify the impact a criminal history has on an applicant’s eligibility to become a licensed electrician, plumber, HVAC technician, and massage therapist.

The bill was amended in the House, now heads to the Senate for final consideration before going to Governor Carney for his signature. We imagine the vote in the Senate will be the same as indicated below on the first go-round.

Senate Bill 13 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Pinkney, Hansen, S.McBride, Sokola, WalshSenate Passed 15-5-1. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Lopez Bonini Hocker Pettyjohn RIchardson Wilson Absent: Lawson
Minor-Brown, Dorsey Walker, Baumbach, K.Johnson, Kowalko, S.Moore, MorrisonHouse Amended and Passed 25-15-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Freel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick
Absent: Wilson-Anton
Current Status: Sent to Senate for another vote.

“It’s not in our interest to keep young people out of school or from pursuing higher education,” said Rep. Minor-Brown. “As long as students check the box, their college application doesn’t stand a chance and keeps them from learning. Without the opportunity for an education, it can be really difficult to have success or a lucrative career. This legislation will give more people a fair shot, and that’s not up for debate.”

“Every Delawarean deserves a chance to learn from their worst mistakes and seek a better life for themselves and their families,” said Sen. Pinkney, the prime sponsor of SB 13 and chair of the Senate Corrections & Public Safety Committee. “I want to thank my colleagues in the House for their support on this bill and their commitment to providing people who have paid their debt to society with a fair shot at a second chance.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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