LANSING – Today, state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon) witnessed the passage of a bipartisan package that would make changes to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) licensing process. Sabo’s bill in the package requires LARA to create a process that allows individuals to learn in advance whether any court judgments against them would likely result in a denial of a license or registration for certain skilled trades jobs for failing to meet the “good moral character” requirement for that license or registration.

“We have seen cases where an individual spends the time and money to go through training and pay required fees for a job, only to be denied a license in the end because of a conviction in their past,” Sabo said. “Although LARA would still not be bound by their preliminary decision, my bill would allow job-seekers to find out up front whether they may be denied to avoid wasting their money and time. These people have paid their debt to society and now are working to get their lives back on track. Finding a job after a conviction is one of the most important parts of reintegrating into society, and helps reduce recidivism. This package is a win for all of us, and I’m grateful to my colleagues, particularly state Reps. Scott VanSingel and Jim Lilly, for their cooperation and bipartisanship in working to see these bills come to fruition.”

Under the current system, background checks for professional and occupational jobs typically occur after the applicant has already gone through training and paid all of the necessary fees. Sabo believes this bill could encourage some individuals in this situation to apply for jobs that they previously might not have for fear of getting to the end and not being approved. Other bills in the package contain the same language, but amend different codes of state law.