House approves limits on access to electronic juvenile court records

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The House on Thursday signed off on a bill that’s intended to give young people a better shot at building decent lives after they end up in court.

HF392 would restrict direct public access to some electronic juvenile court records. The bill passed 120-13.

Many juvenile court records and proceedings are already closed to the public. The bill would affect records stemming from hearings in which the youth is 16 or 17 and has been charged with a felony. Those records are currently public even if an initial felony charge is later reduced or dismissed.

The bill is needed in an era when more employers do background checks and records spread far and fast on the Internet, said its sponsor, Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing). Juvenile records often make it much harder for young people to land jobs, get housing, and even go to college, she said.

The public and press would still have access to hearings and paper records, Melin said. The bill also makes exceptions that would maintain public access to electronic records in some cases, such as those involving certain violent crimes.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) is the sponsor.