Introduced by Senator Sears of Bennington District, Senator Campbell of Windsor District, Senator Leddy of Chittenden District and Senator Wilton of Rutland District
Subject: Internal security; Vermont criminal information center; access to criminal history records
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to permit all employers access to an applicant’s criminal history records, provided that the employer sign a user’s agreement with the Vermont criminal information center and have the applicant’s permission to obtain the record. The bill also permits a person to obtain his or her own criminal history record from the center and establishes a fee for an employer to obtain a record, but exempts from the fee those employers who work with vulnerable classes such as children, the disabled, or the elderly.
AN ACT RELATING TO EXPANDING EMPLOYER ACCESS TO APPLICANTS’ CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 20 V.S.A. § 2056b(a) is amended to read:
(a) The Vermont criminal information center may provide Vermont criminal history records as defined in section 2056a of this title to bona fide persons conducting research related to the administration of criminal justice, subject to conditions approved by the commissioner of public safety to assure the confidentiality of the information and the privacy of individuals to whom the information relates.
Sec. 2. 20 V.S.A. § 2056c is amended to read:
§ 2056c. DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS TO
(a) As used in this section:
(1) “Applicant” means an individual
seeking or being sought for employment
or, a volunteer position
with an employer, a professional license or certification, or admission to a
course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council.
(2) “Criminal record” means the record of pending charges and convictions in Vermont and convictions in other jurisdictions.
(3) “Employer” means any individual,
organization, or governmental body, including partnership, association,
trustee, estate, corporation, joint stock company, insurance company, or legal
representative, whether domestic or foreign, or the receiver, trustee in
bankruptcy, trustee or successor thereof, and any common carrier by mail,
motor, water, air, or express company
doing business in or operating
within this state, which has one or more individuals performing services for it
within this state; and (A) the employer is a qualified entity
that provides care or services to vulnerable classes as provided in 42 U.S.C.
§§ 5119a and 5119c; or (B) the employer is a postsecondary
school with student residential facilities.
(4) “The center” means the Vermont
crime criminal information center. (5) “Vulnerable classes” means children,
the elderly, and persons with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c.
(b) An employer may obtain from the center a Vermont criminal record and an out-of-state criminal record for any applicant who has given written authorization on a release form provided by the center, provided that the employer has filed a user’s agreement with the center. The user’s agreement shall require the employer to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal records and the protection of individual privacy. The user’s agreement shall be signed and kept current by the employer.
(c) The employer may obtain the criminal record only:
(1) after the applicant has been given an offer of employment
conditioned on the record check
(2) after a volunteer has been offered a position conditioned on the record check;
(3) after an applicant has received a professional license or certification conditioned on the record check; or
(4) after an applicant has been accepted into a course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council conditioned on the record check.
employers may obtain criminal records only for applicants who apply for
employment or volunteer positions that provide access to student residential
facilities. Employers shall be provided with informational material by
the center prior to authorization to request criminal history records which
addresses the following topics:
(A) Requirements of the user agreement.
(B) How to obtain criminal history records from the center.
(C) How to interpret criminal history records.
(D) How to obtain source documents summarized in the criminal history records.
(E) Misuse of criminal history records.
(2) Employers must certify on the user agreement that they have read and understood the materials prior to receiving authorization to request records from the center.
(e) The release form shall contain the applicant’s name, signature, date of birth, place of birth, and the signature as attested to by a notary public. The release form shall state that the applicant has the right to appeal the findings to the center, pursuant to rules adopted by the commissioner of public safety.
(f) No person shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal record information to any person who would not be eligible to receive the information pursuant to this subchapter.
(g) A person who violates the provisions of this section with respect to unauthorized disclosure of confidential criminal history record information obtained from the center under the authority of this section shall be fined not more than $5,000.00. Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation.
(h) The center shall provide notice of the penalty for unauthorized disclosure on a form accompanying any report of a criminal record to an employer. The notice shall include, in boldface print, the following statements: THE REQUESTOR AGREES TO USE CRIMINAL RECORD INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM THE VERMONT CRIME INFORMATION CENTER FOR THE PURPOSES INTENDED BY LAW. THE REQUESTOR AGREES NOT TO DISCLOSE THE CONTENTS OF ANY CRIMINAL RECORD INFORMATION WITHOUT THE APPLICANT’S PERMISSION TO ANY PERSON OTHER THAN THE APPLICANT AND PROPERLY DESIGNATED EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE A DOCUMENTED NEED TO KNOW THE CONTENTS OF THE RECORD. A VIOLATION MAY RESULT IN A FINE OF UP TO $5,000.00. EACH UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE SHALL CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE CIVIL VIOLATION.
(i) Nothing in this section shall create a statutory duty for an employer to perform a criminal record check on every job applicant hired by the employer. An employer’s failure to obtain a criminal record on an employee who subsequently commits a criminal offense shall not be the sole factor in determining civil or criminal liability unless otherwise authorized by law.
Sec. 3. 20 V.S.A. § 2056d(a) is amended to read:
(a) Statewide criminal history records shall be released only by the Vermont criminal information center.
Sec. 4. 20 V.S.A. § 2056f is added to read:
§ 2056f. DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS TO AN
A person may obtain a copy of his or her own criminal history record, as defined in sections 2056a and 2056c of this title, from the Vermont criminal information center.
Sec. 5. 20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:
§ 2063. CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD FEES; CRIMINAL HISTORY
RECORD CHECK FUND
(a) Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the cost of each criminal history check based on name and date of birth shall be $10.00.
Out-of-state criminal history record checks shall include any additional fees charged by the state from which the record is requested.
(b) Requests made by criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes or other purposes authorized by state or federal law shall be exempt from all record check fees. The following types of requests shall be exempt from the Vermont criminal record check fee:
(1) Requests made by
agencies or entities regulated by governmental agencies in accordance with
local, state or federal law or regulation which requires a criminal record
check for employment or licensing any individual, organization, or
governmental body doing business in Vermont which has one or more individuals
performing services for it within this state and which is a qualified entity
that provides care or services to children, the elderly, or persons with
disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c.
(2) Requests made by researchers approved by the Vermont criminal information center to conduct research related to the administration of criminal justice. A fee, however, may be charged by the center which shall reflect the cost of generating the requested information.
(3) Requests made by individuals to review their own record at the Vermont criminal information center; however, copies of the individual’s record are not exempt from the record check fee.
(c) The criminal history record check
fund is established and shall be managed by the commissioner of public safety
in accordance with the provisions of
Title 32, chapter 7, subchapter 5 of
chapter 7 of Title 32. All fees paid under this section shall be placed in
the fund and used for personnel and equipment related to the processing,
maintenance, and dissemination of criminal history records. The
commissioner of finance and management may draw warrants for disbursements from
this fund in anticipation of receipts.
(d) The department of public safety shall have the authority, with the approval of the secretary of administration, to establish limited service positions as are necessary to provide criminal record checks in a timely manner, provided that there are sufficient funds in the criminal history record check fund to pay for the costs of these positions.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street