On March 19 through March 22nd, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) had their semi-annual meeting in Washington DC. After the conference on March 23rd, the day before the big vote on health care was scheduled, 110 NAPBS members went to Capitol Hill to speak with congress about various matters that concerned the criminal background screening industry. For a point of reference, background screening companies are called CRA’s under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The NAPBS has been working tirelessly to inform and educate federal and state legislatures on consumer protection issues related to the FCRA. A recent survey indicated that 96% of employers surveyed do background checks and that 89% of these same employers did so in an effort to protect their employees for harm. Other matters related to comparing our process of performing background checks, which includes having court researchers physically check county and municipal court records in comparison to FBI fingerprinting and their methodologies. We also sought to protect employers by encouraging Congress to provide a safe harbor for those employers who while following various state laws came in conflict with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission rulings.
As it was my first time inside the halls of Congress in an effort to lobby Senators and Congressmen on background screening issues, it was pretty exhilarating! As you can imagine, there was a lot of security to go through.
There are numerous basement corridors that link the Senate with the Congress and their administrative buildings. In fact, I see these same corridors on national news at home and it is terrific to know I was right there where the nation’s news was being made.
As the CRA’s began to break up to visit the staffers of Congress, the four of us in our group were on the way to Senator Rob Portman’s office. While walking down one of the corridors, Senator Elizabeth Warren came out of one of the doors. We made eye contact, and that was all that happened. However, when I mentioned this to Marcie back at the office, she asked, “Did you give her a hug?”
“Absolutely not,” I said -- there would have been security guards upon me before I would have known it. J
As our group was walking down one of these corridors looking at the winning portraits from high school artist that each Congressman chooses, I saw someone familiar out of the corner of my eye. I did a double take, and there was Senator Rand Paul. He did kind of a double take back, realized that I wasn’t anyone important, and went on his way.
Our Ohio group was able to meet with Senator Rob Portman’s staff plus Congressman Bishop’s staff from the 8th District of Michigan, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty from Ohio’s 3rd District, and lastly Congressman Steve Chabot from Ohio’s 1st District. With Congressman Chabot, we were able to interview the staffer in the Congressman’s office, and as we were leaving, we met and shook hands with Congressman Chabot as he was getting off the elevator and we were about to leave.
In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem as much of a big deal to the reader, but to actually be in the halls of Congress was pretty exciting. If you have not done so, I would encourage each of you to visit our nation’s capitol and take a tour through the Senate and Congress. I’m pretty sure that you will find the experience memorable as well.