Fresh Start Act could clear pathways to work
Posted September 23, 2020 in Press Releases
Policy Matters calls on Senate to follow House in passing bill
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 to today’s hearing of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee in support of House Bill 263, which passed the Ohio House of Representatives in June. He urged members of the committee to broaden the measure to include not just new license applicants, but those seeking renewals as well.
“Most Ohioans who serve time will return to our cities and towns,” Shields said. “Successful reentry hinges on the ability to find legitimate work.”
HB 263 would require licensing bodies to provide a clear justification for excluding applicants, showing that the conviction limits ability to safely or effectively perform the job. Agencies could no longer have blanket restrictions triggered by any type of conviction. Exclusions for most convictions 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.
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.”