03/14/19 -- HCS HB 564 -- Prohibits denial of occupational licenses based on unrelated crimes
HCS HB 564, introduced by Representative Derek Grier (Republican - District 100) prohibits the denial of an occupational license based solely on an unrelated criminal conviction. Referred to as "The Fresh Start Act", this bill is a great example of criminal justice reform. In many cases, current policy by licensing boards and commissions is to deny licenses based on "poor moral turpitude" or similarly vague and subjective measures. Such restrictions are usually used to keep people with prior convictions from being employed in certain industries - even if the crime the person previously committed has nothing at all do to with the industry they wish to work in. This bill aims to fix this, by only allowing the denial of licenses based on prior crimes if it can be demonstrated that the crime is somehow relevant to the license being sought (e.g. someone seeking a license to sell insurance who had a previous conviction for insurance fraud).
This is a great bill, and I was happy to support it. If someone has completed their sentence for a prior offense and wishes to reintegrate into society, it makes no sense to deny them access to a job unless absolutely necessary. Prior offenders who obtain steady employment or who start their own businesses are substantially less likely to re-offend, and will also contribute back via the taxes they pay. I generally oppose occupational licensing for a variety of reasons, so it makes even less sense to me to deploy it as a way to prevent people from rebuilding their lives after a mistake or transgression.
Luckily this bill passed overwhelmingly.