BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 396


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          Date of Hearing:  May 27, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          AB  
          396 (Jones-Sawyer) - As Amended May 22, 2015


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:  This bill limits when a landlord may inquire about a  
          prospective tenant's criminal record.  Specifically, this bill:   



          1)Provides that it is an unlawful housing practice under the  
            Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for the owner of rental  








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            housing to inquire about, or to require an applicant for  
            rental housing to disclose, a criminal record during the  
            initial application assessment phase, unless otherwise  
            required by state or federal law.


          2)Allows the owner of rental housing to disclose to the  
            applicant on the rental housing application, the policy and  
            screening criteria that the owner uses in deciding whether to  
            rent or lease to an applicant with a criminal background. The  
            disclosure must include a written disclosure that the  
            applicant may provide evidence of inaccuracies within the  
            applicant's criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or  
            other mitigating factors.


          3)Provides that, following the successful completion of the  
            initial application assessment phase, an owner of rental  
            housing may request a criminal background check and consider  
            an applicant's criminal record in deciding whether to rent or  
            lease.


          4)Provides that the request for a criminal background check must  
            include a written disclosure that the applicant may provide  
            evidence of inaccuracies within the applicant's criminal  
            record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating  
            factors.


          5)Provides that an owner of rental housing shall not be liable  
            to any person for accepting or denying a person with a  
            criminal record as a tenant if the owner follows the  
            procedures provided in this bill in accepting that person as a  
            tenant.


          FISCAL EFFECT:









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          On-going annual costs to the Department of Fair Employment and  
          Housing (DFEH) in the range of $100,000 (GF) for up to one  
          position to handle the increased enforcement workload, assuming  
          a 5% increase in complaint filings.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  In response to prison overcrowding directives as  
            well as recent public safety reforms such as AB 109 (Budget  
            Committee), Chapter 15, Statutes of 2011, and Proposition 47,  
            unprecedented numbers of formerly incarcerated individuals are  
            returning to our communities.  The author points out that, in  
            light of realignment, redemptive policies should be  
            implemented to ensure people with criminal records are not  
            blocked from being productive citizens. The author explains  
            that this bill seeks to reduce recidivism, keep families  
            together, reduce homelessness and unfair discrimination.  



           2)Background.  FEHA prohibits employment and housing  
            discrimination based on the protected classes of race, color,  
            religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression,  
            sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry,  
            familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic  
            information. FEHA further provides that it is a civil right to  
            be able to pursue and maintain housing or employment without  
            facing discrimination.  The Department of Fair Employment and  
            Housing (DFEH) is the state agency responsible for enforcing  
            FEHA and other civil rights laws.  



             This bill would not create a separate protected class under  
            FEHA, but would limit when and how a landlord may consider a  
            prospective tenant's criminal record when determining whether  








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            to rent to the applicant.  


          3)Recent Amendments. In response to opposition arguments, the  
            author took amendments to:


             a)   Remove the 14-day period for the applicant to provide  
               evidence of inaccuracies in the applicant's criminal record  
               or evidence of rehabilitation and instead require the owner  
               to disclose to the applicant that the applicant can provide  
               such evidence upon requesting a criminal background check.


             b)   Remove the requirement that an owner must provide an  
               applicant with written notification of their decision to  
               deny an application and list the reasons.


             c)   Allow owners to disclose on the initial application  
               their policy and screening criteria regarding leasing to an  
               applicant with a criminal background. 


             d)   Remove liability for owners if they follow the  
               notification procedures. 


          1)Related legislation: AB 1056 (Atkins), pending in this  
            Committee, would direct the Board of State and Community  
            Corrections to develop a Second Chance Program to provide  
            mental health services and housing to formerly incarcerated  
            individuals.  


          2)Prior Legislation. 


             a)   AB 1650 (Jones-Sawyer), Chapter 880, Statutes of 2014,  








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               with certain exceptions, provides that state contractors  
               must determine an on-site construction-related job  
               applicant's minimum qualifications before obtaining and  
               considering information regarding the applicant's criminal  
               conviction history.  


             b)   AB 218 (Dickinson), Chapter 699, Statutes of 2013, with  
               certain exceptions, provides that a state or local agency  
               shall not ask an applicant for employment to disclose,  
               orally or in writing, information concerning the conviction  
               history of the applicant, including any inquiry about  
               conviction history on any employment application, until the  
               agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum  
               employment qualifications, as stated in any notice issued  
               for the position.


          


          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Swenson / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081