Harris applauds passage of bipartisan occupational licensure reform

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – Citing the benefit to Pennsylvanians looking for employment as well as to the state’s economy, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic whip, applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation he authored with state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, that restructures how the state’s occupational licensure system looks at criminal records.

“This legislation is about second chances, job growth and lower recidivism across Pennsylvania,” said Harris. “We know the number one way to lower recidivism and stop people from falling into the pitfall of crime is to give them a chance at secure employment and a better life, and that’s exactly what House Bill 1477 accomplishes. I’m thrilled to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially Representative Delozier again, to help give thousands of Pennsylvanians a chance to succeed and turn their lives around.

“A licensing board should not reject someone applying to practice a profession solely due to an old infraction that may have nothing to do with the profession they want to serve,” said Delozier. “This legislation would not allow someone to be solely rejected based on a criminal record unless there is a direct tie to the profession.”

House Bill 1477 provides alternatives to licensing boards in Pennsylvania to issue licenses to formally incarcerated and convicted individuals, including the authority to consider mitigating factors when making licensure decisions. The bill requires the authority to analyze if a criminal conviction directly relates to the occupational license being sought as well as conduct an individualized assessment of an applicant’s criminal conviction and rehabilitation.

“Far too many individuals try to better themselves while incarcerated by learning a trade, such as cosmetology or barbery, only to be released, attempt to get an occupational license to practice their trade, and be rejected due to their criminal record,” Harris said. “Rather than hold formally incarcerated individuals back, this legislation helps lift them up to a successful career by removing unnecessary roadblocks.