Iowa Lawmakers Consider Overriding Local “Ban the Box” Ordinances

Iowa Lawmakers Consider Overriding Local “Ban the Box” Ordinances

Leaders of committees in the Iowa House and Senate are looking at bills to bar cities, counties and other local governments from adopting “ban the box” ordinances that prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history. 

Senate Study Bill 3034 would make such laws unenforceable once the legislation was approved and signed by the governor.  

City officials in Waterloo approved a “fair chance initiative”(ban the box) last year that prevents the city and many private employers from asking job applicants about criminal history until the end of the hiring process. 

The ordinance has prompted a lawsuit against the city and legal challenge, and Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it has the attention of legislators. 

“I just think that the city of Waterloo overstepped their boundaries on having a local ordinance telling businesses what they can and can’t do,” Zaun said. “Personally, as someone that’s in business, I want to know who I might potentially be hiring. I think it’s worthy of a conversation.” 

But he said he expected the House will take the lead on the issue this session.