LANSING —The House of Representatives approved unanimously state Rep. Terry Sabo’s (D-Muskegon) bill today allowing people to find out from the state before they undergo training for a job in the skilled trades if there are any court judgments in their past that could be used to deny them to be licensed for that job. Sabo’s bill is part of a bipartisan package of bills addressing an individual’s “good moral character” when issuing an occupational or professional license.
“People need to know before they’ve trained for a job and paid necessary fees if there is something in their background that could possibly deny them a license and an ability to practice the profession they’ve trained for,” said Sabo. “My bill would let a person get a preliminary determination to see if they could be denied a license. Someone trying to get their life back on track shouldn’t be blindsided and discouraged at the end of their job training.”
The package would make the preliminary determination optional. Currently, background checks for certain jobs only occur after the person has gone through training and usually paid hundreds of dollars in licensing fees. Doing a preliminary check before the training would be fairer for people concerned about their prior criminal history. It could also encourage people who assume they wouldn’t be licensed to consider these professions because they could ask for a preliminary determination.
“We know that those who have paid their debt to society are more likely to reoffend if they can’t find a job, so for the sake of our communities we should be working to reduce recidivism in whatever way we can,” said Sabo. “Some who think they would be locked out of a profession might find out that isn’t so. Others could find out that they wouldn’t be eligible for a particular job. But everyone would have more information about what their options are and that can help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”