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In the States

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With Independence Day now behind us, the legislatures of only six states (CA, MA, MI, NJ, OH and PA), and the District of Columbia remain in session.

In such a politically charged year – which included recall elections in Wisconsin involving the governor and a handful of elected officials, along with two Supreme Court decisions with major ramifications for the states involving immigration and health care reform – only a handful of HR public policy initiatives have successfully navigated their way through their respective state legislatures.

Below is a brief summary of a few key measures that have become law in the states during the first half of 2012.

  • Mandated E-Verify – While dominating the HR agenda in the states in 2010 and 2011, the level of activity on immigration reform legislation significantly subsided in 2012. However, on July 5, 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a bill that would require contractors and subcontractors bidding on public works projects for the state to verify the work eligibility of new employees through the Federal government’s E-Verify system.
  • Employer Access to Social Media Passwords – The newest HR initiative to emerge on the state level has been legislation designed to restrict an employer from asking applicants and employees for access to their social media homepages. Legislation had been introduced in nearly a dozen states, with Maryland being the first to enact a measure into law. A similar bill is awaiting consideration by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and other bills are moving in the California and Pennsylvania legislatures.
  • Credit Reports – Another hot topic in 2010 and 2011. Vermont joins 7 other states (CA, CT, HI, IL, MD, OR and WA) that have now enacted legislation severely restricting employer use of credit reports in the hiring process.
  • Right-to-Work Indiana started off the 2012 legislative session with a bang, enacting legislation that would make it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to require an individual to be a member of a union and pay dues as a condition of employment.

Between now and the end of 2012, SHRM will continue to monitor these and other state legislative initiatives with the potential to impact the HR profession. To find out what legislation is pending (or was considered) in your state, be sure to access SHRM’s Legislative Tracking System by clicking HERE.

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