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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 12, 2018 04:06 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Occupational License Reform
States across the country have been reforming their criminal justice systems to be more efficient, effective, and economical. They have found ways to reduce prison populations while protecting crime victims and ensuring better outcomes for offenders. Each element of our criminal justice system requires a cost-benefit analysis to determine the benefit to public safety and the costs to our taxpayers.

I will soon introduce a bill to make modest reforms to our occupational license requirements so that former criminal offenders can make a living with their skills and not reenter a life of crime. The opportunity to do meaningful work addresses a major risk factor for recidivism, thereby adding to public safety. Meanwhile, there are also economic advantages to reducing these barriers to reentry.

Although certain occupational licensure rules protect the public from dangerous or incompetent practitioners, others offer little or no protection for consumers and simply create an artificial shortage of competition in the marketplace. If a former criminal offender wishes to practice a licensed profession or trade, the offense committed in the past should not affect the offender’s occupational license unless the offense was related to the profession or trade. Otherwise, the license restriction imposes additional punishment, reduces competition in the profession, and offers no added protection to consumers or crime victims.

My bill will eliminate the automatic bar to holding an occupational license for those with certain offenses. The licensure boards will be able to consider a felony or misdemeanor only if the offense relates to the profession or trade. Current language in Section 9124 of Title 18 already recognizes that criminal offenses should relate to the profession in order to be considered. My bill will make this statute internally consistent. The bill will also eliminate the automatic 10-year felony bans for those seeking licenses to operate cranes or to practice massage therapy. All other requirements relating to the competence of the license holder to practice the profession will remain in place.

Please join me in sponsoring this legislation to get offenders back to work in licensed professions.

Introduced as SB1273