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IL Lawmakers Seek to Remove Job, Licensing Barriers for Those with a Criminal Record

During the most recent legislative session, the Illinois General Assembly considered several bills that would improve employment and licensing opportunities for people who have a criminal record or, in one case, keep someone from getting a criminal record.

At the conclusion of this year’s regular legislative session, eight bills of note were sent to Governor Rauner to sign. So far, Governor Rauner has yet to take any action on the bills.  No action is expected to be taken until mid August.

The following is a brief summary of the legislation awaiting the governor’s pen.

Employment Barriers

  • House Bill 4360: This bill eliminates K-12 schools’ permanent bar to hiring anyone convicted of certain felony drug offenses. In its place, a seven-year waiting period will apply. Last year, a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Rauner.
  • Senate Bill 3005: This bill is the same as House Bill 4360 except that it applies to park district employment.
  • House Bill 4515: This bill eliminates information from the Healthcare Worker Registry that, in effect, notifies employers that a job applicant has a criminal record. Instead of noting that someone has a healthcare worker waiver, the Registry will only indicate if the person is eligible to work in healthcare.

Licensing Barriers

  • House Bill 5973: This bill expressly eliminates barriers to some occupational licenses due to a misdemeanor or felony conviction, provided that the crime is unrelated to the profession’s duties. This bill only applies to these licenses: barber, cosmetology, esthetics, hair braiding, nail technology, roofing, and funeral services.
  • Senate Bill 42: This bill eliminates the lifetime bar for individuals seeking to become a licensed health care worker. The lifetime bar will be replaced with a five-year waiting period (from date of conviction) for those convicted of a forcible felony (excludes sex offenses). License applicants will still have their application denied in the first time around but will have the right to appeal.

Criminal Records Relief

  • House Bill 6328: This bill permits persons who have been convicted of a crime to expunge their arrests. Currently, only those who have never been convicted of a crime can expunge arrest records.
  • House Bill 5017: This bill eliminates the waiting period to expunge juvenile delinquency findings. Currently, these records cannot be expunged until age 18.

Decriminalization

Senate Bill 2228: Last year the Illinois Assembly tried to pass legislation decriminalizing up to 15 grams of marijuana statewide. Chicago previously decriminalized up to 15 grams in 2012. Those caught would have paid a civil fine of $55 to $125. Governor Rauner vetoed the bill. The bill was reintroduced in 2016 with the governor’s changes. The current bill decriminalizes up to 10 grams of marijuana and imposes civil fines of $100 to $200.

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