DiSanto Occupational Licensure Reforms Sent to Governor

Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) to extend second chances for rehabilitated citizens seeking state-issued job licenses was approved by the Senate today with House amendments and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk. The Governor has ten days to act on the bill and his administration has previously expressed support for the legislation.

Senate Bill 637 overhauls Pennsylvania’s outdated occupational licensing laws that deny many qualified residents the right to work because of an old or irrelevant criminal record. The legislation requires the Department of State’s 29 licensing boards and commissions to complete individualized reviews to determine if an applicant’s criminal conviction is a disqualification for licensure.

Licensing entities must consider whether crimes are directly related to the occupation and weigh rehabilitative factors and whether issuing a license creates a substantial risk to the public. In addition, boards and commissions are prohibited from denying individuals the right to practice on the grounds of vague phrases such as “moral turpitude” and “moral character.”

The bill also provides prospective applicants guidance and the opportunity to petition licensing entities for preliminary decisions on how their criminal history affects their ability to practice before investing precious time and money in professional training and education.

“My legislation provides much-needed balance, predictability, and transparency to a licensing process that has dissuaded far too many and been a disservice to our entire commonwealth and its skilled workforce needs,” said DiSanto. “More than 1 in 5 jobs require a government job license and SB 637 removes an old or irrelevant criminal record’s lifelong barriers to employment and opportunity,” said DiSanto.

Senate Bill 637 is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders such as the Greater Harrisburg NAACP, the PA Chamber of Business & Industry, Community Legal Services, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Justice Action Network.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801

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