On the last day of August 2022, the California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 1262 (SB 1262) to lessen delays in criminal background checks by allowing public access to identifiers such as dates of birth and driver’s license numbers used to match individuals to court records by screening providers, according to the SB 1262 page on the California State Legislature website.
Since the California State Senate had already unanimously passed SB 1262 in May 2022, the bill will now head to the desk of California Governor Gavin Newsom who has until 12 days after delivery to sign or veto the legislation. After 12 days, if neither signed nor vetoed, the bill will be “approved without signature” and enacted with an effective date of January 1, 2023.
Companies that conduct criminal background checks need a date of birth or driver’s license number to comply with accuracy requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). SB 1262 would require publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants in criminal cases to permit searches based on a defendant’s date of birth or driver’s license number, or both.
SB 1262 would amend Section 69842 of the California Government Code to read: The clerk of the superior court shall keep indexes to ensure ready reference to any action or proceeding filed in the court. There shall be separate indexes of plaintiffs and defendants in civil actions and of defendants in criminal actions. The name of each plaintiff and defendant shall be indexed and there shall appear opposite each name indexed the number of the action or proceeding and the name or names of the adverse litigant or litigants. Publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants in criminal cases shall permit searches and filtering of results based on a defendant’s driver’s license number or date of birth, or both.
SB 1262’s approval is good news for the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) – a non-profit organization representing the background screening industry – which supported the passage of the bill and urged PBSA members and consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) that perform background checks in California to contact their Assemblymembers.
Why the interest in SB 1262 by the PBSA? Since a May 2021 ruling by the California Court of Appeals in All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, Clerk, California Superior courts have been removing the date of birth search field from online portals and public-access terminals in the court houses, causing a severe impact on background screening.
In July 2021, the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) – a voice of the consumer reporting industry – and the PBSA submitted a letter to the California Supreme Court about the ruling that stated: “criminal background checks – which make most employment in this State possible – will be severely delayed, and in many instances they will no longer be possible at all.”
The PBSA and CDIA had warned that background checks in California would be next to impossible without a date of birth or driver’s license number. “Practically speaking, it will no longer be possible to consult criminal records in California for purposes of conducting routine background checks for many or most employment, tenant, and volunteer applicants.”
A survey titled “Background Screening: Trends in the U.S. and Abroad” that was released in August 2021 by the PBSA and HR.com indicated that criminal background checks that relied on county, statewide, and national searches were the most common type of screening used by employers with 93 percent of those surveyed responding that they relied on that method.
ClearStar – a founding member of the PBSA that is accredited by the PBSA – is a leading Human Resources technology company specializing in background checks, drug testing, and occupational health screening. ClearStar offers criminal background checks to empower employers to make better hiring decisions. To learn more, contact ClearStar today.
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