The Michigan House of Representatives today overwhelmingly approved a plan sponsored by state Rep. Joe Bellino making it easier for an individual applying for a state occupational license to have his or her application accepted based on a determination of moral character.
Bellino’s legislation, House Bill 6113, is part of a bipartisan, five-bill plan to reform the state’s review of occupational licensing.
State regulations often refer broadly to “good moral character” as a requirement for holding a license. In practice, this has often led to a licensing board interpreting anyone with a criminal record to be ineligible for an occupational license.
“These bills are really the definition of good faith,” said Bellino, of Monroe, who is the vice chair of the House Regulatory Reform committee. “We are not only giving people a second chance, we are helping able-bodied workers find work, job providers fill openings and reducing recidivism. These all correlate to helping Michigan’s economy move forward.”
A total of 77 million Americans, or one out of every three adults, have a criminal record according to the National Council of State Legislatures – making it difficult, or even impossible to find work that requires an occupational license. In 2014, employment barriers faced by people with felony convictions – including occupational licensing – were associated with a reduction in the overall employment rate amounting to a loss of at least 1.7 million workers from the workforce and a cost of at least $78 billion to the economy nationwide.
“There are jobs readily available and people wanting to fill them – but their past mistakes are keeping them from doing that,” Bellino said. “Not having a steady employment is what most Michiganders – especially those providing for their families – fear most. Those who have been convicted of minor crimes should at least have the opportunity to pursue work and live a successful life moving forward.”
House Bills 6110-13, along with 6381, now move to the Senate for consideration.