Landrigan: NH lawmakers hope to change difficulty of getting criminal record information
You've got a new neighbor and the rumor is he's a convicted felon. So you want to do a statewide criminal background check on him.
Right now you can't without his permission.
When it comes to the privacy of this info, New Hampshire stands out.
"Most states, the majority of states have their records online or accessible online without permission or knowledge of the information being requested,'' said Jeffrey Kellett, director of the criminal records bureau for the Department of Safety.
A sweeping new bill would change that. Anyone could do that check and merely notify that person of the request.
But House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk says this bill goes way too far.
"All I have to do is notify them. So I send the kid a postcard, hey Joe, I'm doing a criminal background check on you before you can date my daughter,'' Kurk declared.
"He may not like it. He can't object to it under this language. That's a crazy idea."
Neal Kurk is the certifiable expert on personal privacy in the Legislature. So to paraphrase that EF Hutton ad, when Neal Kurk talks about privacy, legislators listen.
Companies that do these criminal checks for employers want this change in the law.
"I think this would be good for businesses, it would be good for applicants because they don't have to wait as long to get a decision on whether or not they are being hired and it's good for public safety,'' said Doug Patch, a lobbyist representing Carco Group Inc., a Connecticut based company that provides this information.
A Comcast executive says it takes his firm three times longer here to do a background check of a cooperating job applicant.
Kurk said he would support allowing these companies to get easier access to this information as long as it didn't create a new loophole for the public.
It's clear from today's hearing this legislation is going to get a good working over in the House committee.