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Reforming Occupational Licensing

Lawmakers must reduce occupational licensing barriers for returning citizens
April 14, 2021

Latest Update

SB1118/HB87, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Chambliss and Sen. Keith Perry, aimed to improve certain workforce opportunities for those with a criminal record. The bills did not pass.


Occupational licensing reform

Florida law prohibits people with certain criminal offenses in their background from obtaining occupational licenses, and occupational licensing boards can broadly factor criminal backgrounds into licensing decisions through “good character” provisions. This creates an arbitrary barrier for returning citizens to gaining access to dozens of occupations, increasing both financial insecurity and recidivism. We support legislative changes that would reduce barriers for returning citizens to obtain occupational licenses.

FPI published a three-part series, “Florida’s Approach to Criminal Justice Cannot Go Back to ‘Normal’,” which included a blog post that called on legislators to reduce occupational licensing barriers for Floridians with a criminal record. Additionally, FPI teamed up with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition on an op-ed — the piece appeared in the Tampa Bay Times — which stated that more work must be done to ensure that everyone, including returning citizens, have the opportunity to fully contribute to Florida’s economy.

On February 12, 2021, Rep. Kevin Chambliss (D-Homestead), alongside primary co-sponsor Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), introduced HB 953, “Criminal History in Professional Licensing Applications,” which shortens the period of time from five to two years for when past criminal convictions cannot be the sole ground to deny licenses for certain types of occupations, removes “good moral character” as a disqualifying criterion for certain types of occupational licenses, and creates a pipeline program that allows applicable licensing boards to approve the credits applicants received from the Department of Corrections’ educational programs to be counted towards licensing training requirements. See the bill summary for HB 953 (2021).

Rep. Kevin Chambliss (D-Homestead), alongside primary co-sponsor Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), introduced HB 953, “Criminal History in Professional Licensing Applications,” which would have reduced the period of time from five to two years for when past criminal convictions cannot be the sole ground to deny licenses for certain types of occupations, removed “good moral character” as a disqualifying criterion for certain types of occupational licenses, and created a pipeline program that allows applicable licensing boards to approve the credits applicants received from the Department of Corrections’ educational programs to be counted towards licensing training requirements. HB 953 did not pass the House; its companion SB 1032 also did not pass during the 2021 legislative session.

SB1118/HB87, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Chambliss and Sen. Keith Perry, aimed to improve certain workforce opportunities for those with a criminal record. This legislation would have undoubtedly boosted workforce opportunities, thereby lowering individuals’ chances of reincarceration, and helped to save millions in taxpayers dollars over the years. The bills did not pass during the 2022 legislative session.

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Related Resources
Jan 2020

Reducing Barriers to Occupational Licensing for Floridians with Past Criminal Convictions

Reducing Barriers to Occupational Licensing for Floridians with Past Criminal Convictions

May 2020

Florida’s Approach to Criminal Justice Cannot Go Back to ‘Normal’ (Part 3 of 3)

Florida’s Approach to Criminal Justice Cannot Go Back to ‘Normal’ (Part 3 of 3)

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