HARRISBURG – The Senate approved legislation today to help Pennsylvanians with criminal records find meaningful jobs and bolster the commonwealth’s skilled workforce, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), who supported the bill.
Senate Bill 637 would prevent state licensing boards from denying a certificate or license automatically because of a criminal conviction. Instead the licensing boards must consider the circumstances of each applicant’s offense, as well as any evidence of rehabilitation and fitness for the occupation.
More than one in five jobs require a government-issued license.
“Getting and keeping a good job is one of the best ways for a person to stay out of the criminal justice system,” said Bartolotta, who created and serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus. “We have seen instances in which people are trained to do jobs in prison that they are then prohibited from performing when they are released. We need to break down these barriers to employment and give individuals in the criminal justice system a clearer picture of the types of jobs they can pursue upon re-entry.”
Senate Bill 637 also provides a new level of transparency by making state boards and commissions publish the convictions they determine to be directly related to the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the occupation, and requires individualized assessments of an applicant’s qualifications and fitness to perform the job.
In addition, if individuals are unsure whether their criminal record would prohibit them from obtaining an occupational license, they will be able to petition a state licensing entity for a preliminary determination before investing the time and money into a job training program.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463