BATON ROUGE, La. — The Baton Rouge Metro Council decided to defer the Fair Chance Ordinance, which would have prevented city contractors from asking potential hires about their criminal record until after assessing their skills. Councilwoman Chauna Banks, who has been working on the ordinance for a year, blamed the Parish Attorney's Office for the council members' confusion, saying that they did not answer questions regarding the ordinance.
Banks, along with Kaitlyn Joshua from the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, thought the ordinance would pass, but after concerns were brought up during the two-hour debate, it was deferred.
During the discussion, Councilman Aaron Moak expressed concerns about business owners being accused of discrimination if they choose not to hire someone with a conviction. He argued that it's the responsibility of the business owners to do what is best for their business. The decision to defer the ordinance was disheartening and disappointing to Banks, who blamed the Parish Attorney's Office for the confusion council members felt. Joshua said that they did their homework to ensure council members had their questions answered beforehand.
Banks accused the Parish Attorney's Office of incompetency or passivity, which she said she had never experienced in her 11 years on the council. Despite the setback, she remains committed to the cause and will work to resolve any issues and bring the ordinan ce back for consideration.