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Rep. Filler: Protect public safety by ensuring background checkers have access to information
RELEASE|October 5, 2021
Contact: Graham Filler

State Rep. Graham Filler today introduced a plan to protect the public by ensuring background check providers can continue reporting criminal records to employers, property managers, and other agencies in Michigan.

A new rule proposed by the State Court Administrative Office would result in the redaction of dates of birth for defendants in court proceedings. Filler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the rule – set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2022 – would make it next to impossible for background check companies to do their jobs.

“Millions of background checks are performed each year in Michigan by job providers and landlords who are looking out for the safety of their customers, residents and the general public,” Filler said. “When a background check is performed – especially on someone with a common name – comparing dates of birth is the best way to confirm the accuracy of the records. Restricting access to this information would be a mistake that jeopardizes public safety.”

Most background check companies are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires that background checkers match certain personal identifiers – such as a date of birth – to the person in question. If those identifiers can’t be matched, a report can’t be generated.

The proposed court rule has raised serious concerns for Michigan employers, especially those in the health care industry who have an obligation to protect vulnerable patients.

“Having access to court information is necessary to ensure the accuracy of criminal background checks on individuals who wish to provide services and support to health plan enrollees,” said Dominick Pallone, executive director for the Michigan Association of Health Plans. “We appreciate the intent of the court to protect personal identifying information from falling into the wrong hands. But in this case the court has gone too far, thus potentially endangering our most vulnerable Michiganders.”

Filler’s plan would clearly state in law that the personal identifying information including the date of birth of a defendant must be included in court documents in Michigan. It would not include information of victims, witnesses and other individuals involved in a court case – only criminal defendants.

“Without this change, Michiganders will no longer be able to rely on accurate background checks,” Filler said. “I’m fighting to make sure access to this public information continues.”

House Bill 5368 will be formally introduced in the House this afternoon.

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