Florida bill would give ex-convicts better shot at employment

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(The Center Square) — Ex-offenders in Florida could have an easier time gaining work licenses, permits and other certifications after a new bill passed through committee on Monday.

Senate Bill 1012 is sponsored by state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami and would assist ex-offenders in getting a license, permit, or certification for employment. Calatayud stated during the bill’s introduction to the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries that the bill protects individuals who happen to have a criminal history from being “blanket denied” by agencies.

“This is a policy that helps people restart their lives and step into their families in the way that they were meant to be,” Calatayud said.

The bill would provide the circumstances that an agency must first consider before granting a license, permit or certification. This includes whether or not the person poses a significant risk to public safety.

An agency can only deny granting an application based on a prior conviction for a crime if all the following criteria apply: The crime was a forcible felony, involved a breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent practice, the conviction took place less than three years since filing the application (either incarcerated or not incarcerated) and the conviction relates to the duties and responsibilities of the profession for which the license or permit is being applied for.

Furthermore, if a person is denied a license, permit or certification, the bill would give that person the ability to petition a state agency at any time to confirm that they were disqualified from receiving one because of a prior conviction. That person is then able to file a rebuttal.

An agency would also be obligated to notify the applicant if they intend to deny the applicant based on a prior conviction and advise the applicant on anything they may be able to do to remedy the disqualification.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood, D-Tamarac, supported the bill and praised Sen. Calatayud for introducing the measures, which she stated create more business opportunities to grow generational wealth.

“This bill is gonna give opportunities to a lot of individuals who are struggling right now to build economic wealth through being barbers and working in cosmetology,” Osgood said. “I’m very happy to see this opportunity for ex-offenders and this means of retribution and reconciliation that will empower these individuals to be able to legally gain income to support their families.”

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