Those council members — Frank Reddick, Lisa Montelione and Harry Cohen — tentatively agreed, with Reddick then requesting the City's legal staff to research if the Council could lawfully pass such an ordinance.
On Thursday afternoon, and without making any judgements about the merits of the proposal, City Attorney Allison Singer said yes they could. The Council then voted to hold a workshop in late September to discuss the issue further.
A second part of the proposal the Council will also research is HOPE's request for removing the box on an employment application asking if a prospective employee has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
Such an idea is part of a national "ban-the-box” movement. "Ban-the-box" simply means that employers can no longer ask about criminal records on the application. The legislation does not eliminate criminal background checks, but requires the disclosure of criminal records during the interview instead of on the application.
There was another proposal asked at HOPE's Nehemiah Action Agenda at the Mount Calvary 7th Day Adventist Church in East Tampa that attorney Singer did not address, but was later brought up by Councilman Cohen, regarding credit checks that an employer requires.
Saying that he was skeptical about some of the ideas proposed by HOPE but would keep an open mind, Cohen said he could not understand why an employer would need to review a potential employee's credit record at all.
HOPE is a social justice group made up of various religious denominations. During the public hearing portion of Thursday's Council meeting, several members of the group went before the Council and urged them to support the proposals.
Tom Atchison with New Beginnings in Tampa said that because of addiction issues, many of the homeless have felonies that make it extremely difficult to get jobs. "This is not easy, but I think it would be worth the effort" he said of the proposed legislation.
Councilman Mike Suarez said he'd like to invite potential employers to the workshop, saying "We don't want to tell people how to run their businesses."
Council Chair Charlie Miranda indicated that he doesn't support HOPE's ideas at all, but still voted to have the proposals discussed further in a workshop.
The workshop will take place on Thurs., Sept. 20 at 10:30 a.m.