Before taking its traditional Thanksgiving Break next month, the Michigan legislature can help those tracking down new jobs, volunteer roles, and more in a recovering economy.

Prompt, accurate background checks are an important component of public safety and act as a bridge for Michiganders to access jobs, housing, medical care, insurance and more. A key part of these checks is verifying a person’s identity. For example, if two people have the same name, sorting out their legal backgrounds gets very tricky. You wouldn’t want to lose out on a job over delayed or inaccurate checks.

Unfortunately, a Michigan State Supreme Court rule set to take effect January 1 sets up a roadblock for sorting out who’s who. Reversing decades of established practice, the rule would create new delays in verifying a person’s identity using matching personal information like their name and date of birth.

The rule would also prevent employers from seeing red flags in a potential employee’s background. Already, some courts are even refusing altogether to verify Michigan consumers’ matching information, instead directing users to less accurate criminal records systems with big criminal history data gaps.

What kind of public safety gaps would the court rule create? Active arrest warrants and several jailable offenses, such as serving alcohol to minors, could no longer be easily found in the courts for public safety background checks.

With an unemployment rate slightly below the national average, Michigan’s economy has signs of hope on the horizon. However, the State Supreme Court’s order could undermine that progress.

Fortunately, lawmakers in Lansing recognize this looming problem and are working to fix it. Last week, State Rep. Graham Filler (District 93)—Chairman of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee—introduced a bill that would keep key information in the court system public. Chairman Filler’s bill would prevent the chaos and economic ripple effect that would result if the Supreme Court rule went into effect.

Today, the Judiciary Committee held a related hearing. The Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) provided testimony and technical comments about the bill. More broadly, a CDIA-led coalition of more than a dozen organizations today sent a letter of support for Chairman Filler’s bill to the Judiciary Committee including:

  • CDIA
  • Professional Background Screeners Association
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Michigan Association of Health Plans
  • Insurance Alliance of Michigan
  • National Federation of Independent Business
  • Michigan Cable Telecommunications Association
  • Michigan Retailers Association
  • Michigan Chemistry Council
  • Property Management Association of Michigan
  • Grand Rapids Chamber
  • Michigan Bankers Association
  • Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access
  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association

Check back to this blog for more on this critical issue for Michigan’s citizens and economy.