COLUMBUS— State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) today announced that House Bill 263, the Fresh Start Act, has been passed by the Ohio House Commerce and Labor Committee. The committee reported HB 263 with a vote of 14-0.
HB 263 is an occupational licensing and criminal justice reform proposal created in consultation with civil rights advocates, research institutions, and public policy organizations across the ideological spectrum. Its purpose is to remove barriers to occupational licensing for individuals with criminal histories.
Under the provisions of HB 263, non-violent, non-sexual offenses may not be considered if more than five years has passed since the date of conviction or release from incarceration (whichever is later). However, crimes of a violent or sexual nature would permanently be permitted for consideration by all boards, regardless of the amount of time elapsed.
“Ohioans who have paid their debt to society do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens for the rest of their lives,” Koehler said. “If we are to truly reform criminal justice in Ohio, improve our workforce, and empower individuals to have a second chance at the American dream, we must reform occupational licensing.”
If enacted, HB 263 would require each state licensing authority to adopt a list of specific criminal offenses which may disqualify an individual from obtaining their license during those five years. Boards would be directed to determine which offenses are relevant to the practice of the occupations they regulate.
Current Ohio Law allows boards to subject applicants to varying character requirements and may require those applying to be “of good moral character” or to have “a good reputation for integrity.” These terms need not specifically include or exclude any particular history of action, criminal or otherwise.
“I am encouraged to have the full, bipartisan support of the Commerce & Labor Committee,” Koehler said. “Ohioans cannot know true justice until they are fully able to access the labor market.”
HB 263 now awaits consideration from the full Ohio House of Representatives.
For more information, contact Rep Koehler’s office at (614) 466-2038 or Rep79@ohiohouse.gov.