• MD job applications can no longer ask about a job applicant’s criminal history
  • The MD Assembly overrode Governor Hogan's Ban the Box Bill
  • Applicants can still be asked about their criiminal hisory during follow-up interviews

Jobseekers in Maryland will no longer have to answer whether or not they have a criminal history on job applications.

The State Assembly voted Thursday to strike the question from application forms in an attempt to level the playing field for formerly incarcerated applicants. The chamber voted to override multiple vetoes by Governor Larry Hogan. Among the measures the governor vetoed was one barring employers from asking about an applicant’s past criminal infractions.

The bill has been colloquially named the “Ban the Box Bill” and has become a flashpoint of prisoner’s rights as they attempt to reenter the workforce and rebuild their lives.

Governor Hogan vetoed the bill, complaining the measure would create more bureaucracy for employers and waste time and money on applicants who might not qualify for positions. The measure has sparked vigorous debate over legitimacy of the prison rehabilitation process and the viability of second chances.

During the debate in the House of Delegates, Delegate C.T. Wilson admitted his past criminal record as a young man hindered his ability to get a job. "I was a combat soldier, highly decorated, top of my law school class. Not a single agency even called me back. I tried to be a police officer...not even called back," he said while addressing his colleagues.

Employers will still be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal history, but only during a follow-up interview. Supporters of Governor Hogan’s veto claim that the Ban the Box Bill places unfair burden on employers. The veto faced an override by a decisive 95-42 vote.

The bill enacted last year would also allow immigrants to apply for in-state tuition rates at Maryland's four-year colleges and universities, a provision with which many conservatives have taken issue. Legislators also overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of a bill that would abolish the state’s handgun Permit Review Board.

Devin Butts job application
Devin Butts applying for a job at the Pueblo Mall. Joel Warner