'Ban the Box' law is wrong approach [Letter]

The Greater Baltimore Committee's board of directors strongly opposes the "Ban the Box" legislation in its current form for a number of reasons, even though its members recognize and appreciate the well-meaning intention of this legislation and its sponsor, Councilman Nick Mosby, for ex-offenders to not be arbitrarily excluded from consideration before having a chance to demonstrate their skills and positive attributes ("Banning the box," March 17).

First, the passage of this legislation would add another hurdle for businesses in Baltimore City which are already subject to multiple existing rules and regulations that make it more expensive to do business in the city than in surrounding counties that do not have as many restrictions.

Second, the legislation would subject employers to criminal and civil penalties should a violation of the law occur. The imposition of criminal penalties on private employers is significantly onerous and the passing of this legislation would create a major disincentive for private sector hiring in Baltimore.

It's also worth noting the provisions contained in this legislation impose greater restrictions on private sector employers than apply to the city government's hiring system, which permits criminal background checks of all finalists for a position before offering employment to a candidate.

Although the intentions and ultimate outcomes being sought by the City Council are commendable, the unintended consequences of passing this proposal would likely harm the business climate in the city and could limit job growth as new companies or existing employers looking to expand may elect to do so in a neighboring county without this restrictive hiring procedure.

Creating private sector employment opportunities for ex-offenders is an issue well worthy of attention by city policymakers, but it would be far more productive to provide businesses with incentives to accomplish this objective than for government to mandate and threaten them.

Donald C. Fry, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

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