Senate Approves Measure to help get Pennsylvanians with Criminal Records into Occupations

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate today approved legislation to help Pennsylvanians with criminal records find meaningful jobs and bolster the commonwealth’s skilled workforce, according to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34).

“Many people who have paid their debt to society and served their incarceration are kept from reentering the workforce when boards deny licenses due to convictions unrelated to practice in their desired field,” Senator Corman said. “This bill provides for guidelines and consistency to seeking licenses and allows for those considering a training program to have a fair opportunity to learn in advance what poses a barrier to licensure.”

More than one in five jobs require a government-issued license. Senate Bill 637 ends the practice of blanket prohibitions on job licenses for certain criminal records.

The bill requires state licensing boards and commissions to apply a common set of rules when considering whether to deny, suspend, or revoke an occupational license on the basis of a criminal conviction.

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: Jenn Kocher (717) 787-1377 or jkocher@pasen.gov