Fresh Start Act could clear pathways to work
Posted October 23, 2019 in Press Releases
Policy Matters calls for lawmakers to strengthen HB 263
More than 850 laws and administrative rules limit access to work for Ohioans with a criminal record. The Fresh Start Act, House Bill 263, takes aim at the 630 that limit job opportunities through occupational licensing.
Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Michael Shields submitted testimony in favor of House Bill 263 before the Ohio House Commerce and Labor Committee today, but he urged members of the committee to fix a provision that would keep many existing barriers in place.
HB 263 would require licensing bodies to provide a clear justification for excluding applicants, showing that the conviction limits ability to safely perform the job. Licensing bodies could no longer have blanket restrictions triggered by any type of conviction. Exclusions would be time limited to five years since the last incident or release if the person was incarcerated. Applicants denied a license would have to be informed of the reason, given an appeal opportunity, and notified of when they could reapply.
Violent and sexual crimes would remain basis for excluding applicants from occupational licensure.
HB 263 covers only initial license applications. Shields urged committee members to amend the bill to include ongoing eligibility for current licenses, and renewals; and to direct licensing entities to issue guidance to hiring managers on how to evaluate Ohioans with a record.
“House Bill 263 would be life changing for the many Ohioans who have made mistakes in the past but have worked hard since then to get on track – and for those who share their communities with them,” Shields said. “The ability to find legitimate work can be the pivotal difference in whether a person successfully moves past a conviction or commits another crime.”