Bill easing job hunt for ex-offenders clears Kentucky legislative committee

Kentucky Lantern

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Kentuckians who have been convicted of crimes would get a better shot at a second chance under a bipartisan bill that cleared a House committee Wednesday, its supporters say.

House Bill 124, sponsored by Rep. Emily Callaway, R-Louisville, would allow individuals to find out in advance if their criminal records would disqualify them from receiving an occupational license or working in a state government job.

Also, if the bill becomes law, a criminal conviction would have to directly relate to the job an ex-offender is seeking to justify disqualification from state employment or an occupational license. The bill also requires hiring or licensing authorities to request information and allow an applicant a hearing before deciding on eligibility and to provide written findings of fact to the applicant upon determination.

“Kentucky has made some important strides on reentry in the last 10 years, but there are still so many obstacles that citizens face when trying to rebuild their lives and be strong contributors to their community,” said Marcus Ray, president of the Kentucky NAACP,  in a release from the Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition. “This bill is going to save job applicants the time and expense of preparing for tests and boards when they would be deemed ineligible for their record.”

“We urge House members to support HB 124,” said Kate Shanks, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, speaking for the Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition. She called the bill “another step we can take to address the commonwealth’s workforce issues.  Employment is key to reducing recidivism.”

​​Kentucky Smart on Crime is a coalition of 14 organizations working for what they call “common sense justice reforms.”

Twenty-one states already have such laws, according to the coalition’s news release.

The bill was approved by the House Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations Committee Wednesday morning and now awaits a vote in the House.

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