Rep. Chambliss sponsored HB 953, Criminal History in Professional Licensing Applications, which passed out of its first committee but did not pass the House; its companion SB 1032 also did not pass.
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.
Share the below bill summary with your legislators to make the case for reducing barriers to employment for returning citizens by supporting HB 953.