LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) –The Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation today making it easier for people with a criminal record to obtain an occupational license through House Bills 4488–4493.
“Attainment of an occupational license has always been a prime avenue for opportunity, but for too long the security and stability these careers can provide have been out of reach for people with a criminal record,” Michigan League for Public Policy CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said.
The legislation would remove barriers that now prevent people with certain low-level, previous offenses from qualifying for jobs that require occupational licenses. Iden’s plan establishes criteria that would allow more people to qualify for licensure under ‘good moral character’ provisions outlined in state law.
“And because of the dramatic over-representation of Black and Brown Michiganders in the justice system, these bills also strike an important blow for racial equity in the state. This is a particularly difficult time in our history in several ways, but the bipartisan commitment to making it easier for justice-involved residents to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives continues to be a small ray of hope.”
Around 77 million Americans, or one out of every three adults, have a criminal record, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This often makes it difficult to find work that requires an occupational license – particularly in Michigan, where the current process for reviewing ‘good moral character’ is vague and often automatically excludes people with any past criminal conviction.
The changes led by Iden would establish a new process with more narrowly tailored provisions that continue to protect public health and safety.
Iden noted the legislation pairs well with proposals previously approved by the House which reduce penalties for certain low-level, non-violent crimes.