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Bill passes that would prohibit colleges from asking applicant about criminal record

The General Assembly gave final approval to legislation Monday that would bar public and private colleges from asking about a prospective student's criminal record on initial applications.

The House vote of 92-46 sends the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.

Del. Maggie McIntosh, the Baltimore Democrat who sponsored the "ban the box" bill, said its intent is to remove a barrier to students who have violations on their records. She said testimony showed that many prospective applicants were deterred from applying simply because the question was asked.

The bill will not prevent colleges from using third-party companies that ask the question in the application process.

McIntosh said the bill does not bar colleges from rejecting applicants as long as they do not "automatically or unreasonably restrict" admission based on criminal history.

The bill also allows colleges to develop policies restricting students with criminal records from student housing or certain academic programs, such as law enforcement.

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