Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) to extend second chances for rehabilitated citizens seeking state-issued job licenses is being signed into law today by the Governor.
Senate Bill 637 overhauls Pennsylvania’s outdated occupational licensing laws that deny many qualified residents the right to work because of an old or irrelevant criminal record.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 new law requires the Department of State’s 29 licensing boards and commissions that regulate more than 255 types of licenses to complete individualized reviews to determine if an applicant’s criminal conviction is a disqualification for licensure.
Licensing entities shall be prohibited from automatically denying licenses to those with certain convictions and may only withholding a license for crimes directly-related to the profession, or if an applicant’s convictions pose a substantial risk to health and safety.
Applicants will also have the opportunity to request preliminary decisions to determine if their criminal records would make them ineligible for a license before investing their time and money in expensive training or education.
“Government licensing boards act as the gatekeepers to more than 1 in 5 jobs and as our economy reopens it is paramount we extend the recovery to all Pennsylvanians—including those turning their lives around upon release from the criminal justice system,” DiSanto said. “With the enactment of my legislation, we will provide fairness and transparency in licensing decisions, eliminate an old or irrelevant criminal record’s lifelong barriers to employment and support our Commonwealth’s skilled workforce needs.”
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.
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