For Immediate Release
Sept. 10, 2020
House passage of occupational license reforms an important step for racial equity, economic security
LANSING–The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan House of Representatives’ passage today of the Good Moral Character Reform Package, House Bills 4488–4493. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.
“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. It’s high time for state law to abandon an outdated definition of ‘moral character’ and instead embrace the modern values of hope and redemption, and we appreciate the House of Representatives’ unanimous action today to do just that. Reforming the occupational license process has been a top priority for the League for several years, and it’s more relevant than ever in this moment as COVID-19-related unemployment and economic struggles continue for many workers.
“We should be making it easier for people to find work, not harder, and this is one of several positive packages to eliminate employment and other barriers for people with a criminal record. And because of the dramatic overrepresentation 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.”
Making it easier for individuals with a criminal record to get an occupational license was a goal of the League’s Owner’s Manual for Michigan proactive agenda released in January 2019, and a key policy recommendation in our May 2019 report, Thriving on the outside: How Michigan can help the formerly incarcerated become gainfully employed.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.