Some Michigan lawmakers want to make sure people with a criminal past have a fair shot at getting a job.
They're trying to pass a bill called "Ban the Box" as in the box you see on job applications that asks people if they have a criminal record.
"I do want to be productive, I want to work, I want to be a taxpayer," job seeker Sheila Burtley said.
Like many in Michigan, Burtley wants a job. She's a skilled pastry chef, but she's also a convicted felon and her crime from 20 years ago, still follows her today.
Burtley served her time for the non-violent offense, but still feels punished because as she explains, many employers toss out her applications without considering what she can offer.
"It's demoralizing when you walk into an interview or you can't get an interview because you've checked the box," State Sen. Bert Johnson, (D) Detroit said.
Johnson is among the Michigan lawmakers now trying to ban the question on job applications. It asks if you are, or have ever been convicted of a felony.
"Once you get into the interview process that question will be asked," Johnson said. "They will do their background check, it can be discovered, but not until they've also discovered that you're talented enough to get an interview."
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and some other lawmakers say federal law already protects job seekers from descrimination. They feel a change is unwarranted and say the question ensures a safe workplace.
"We need to have the box there so the employer can look at the criminal behavior and decide if this person can do the job," State Sen. Rick Jones (R) Grand Ledge said. "We don't want sex offenders working with children, we don't want people that have trouble stealing money working in positions of trust."
A number of communities including Detroit, Kalamazoo and Saginaw have already banned the box, but this effort at the capital would mark the first state-wide ban.
"To know that I'm given the opportunity to go in there and talk with the employer just like the person standing next to me, it's going to make a big difference," Burtley said.
Lawmakers pushing the legislation know it will be controversial, but expect it to pass because other states have similar measures.