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Issue Of Employer Credit Checks Sparks Heated Spat

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An image from the credit check debate on Tuesday (credit: CBS)

An image from the credit check debate on Tuesday (credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP) – A debate over whether to ban Colorado employers from using credit reports against job applicants became feisty Tuesday when Senate Democratic Leader John Morse said Republicans are trying to protect corporations while Democrats want to protect “the little guy.”

Republican Sen. Greg Brophy immediately yelled, “Don’t impugn motive!”

Republican Sen. Ted Harvey backed up the anger, saying of Morse during the debate on the Senate floor: “I am ashamed of you. And I think this body should rebuke you for your comments.”

Harvey added in conclusion, “Sen. Morse, you’re an embarrassment.”

It was one of the most heated exchanges of the session.

The bill would forbid employers from using consumer credit information unless a job candidate is applying for a job in the financial or security sector. Morse, of Colorado Springs, was speaking in support of the proposal when he made the comments that angered Republicans.

“The Republicans are saying, ‘We’ve got to protect these big corporations.’ And what we’re saying is, ‘Give the little guy that’s unemployed a fair shake,'” he said.

The proposal got final approval in the Democratically-led Senate on Tuesday. Republicans are expected to defeat the measure in the House, where they have a slim majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Morgan Carroll, said people who are unemployed in the wake of the recession are facing a tougher time because they’ve taken a hit on their credit report and employers are using that against them.

But the opponents of the legislation say it takes control away from employers and opens them up for lawsuits from disgruntled applicants.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation this year dealing with credit checks in employment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rep. Larry Liston, a Colorado Springs Republican who chairs the committee likely to hear the Carroll’s bill in the House, implied a chilly reception for the proposal.

“There are a lot of reasons why a business may need this information,” he said. “There are some very sensitive positions, dealing with state contracts and other financial decisions. Companies should have the ability to do that if they need to.”

LINK: Senate Bill 3

- By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt contributed.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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