Most people believe in second chances. As a culture, we tend to believe that when someone has been punished for an offense, acknowledged the error of their ways, and gone on to live a better life, our society should welcome them back. Most people believe this, but Pennsylvania laws have not shown the same grace, until now.
A New Law is Passed
The good news is that this will change very soon in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf recently signed a bill in law that will no longer restrict people with criminal records from getting professional licenses.
The new law lets professional boards issue licenses to people who have prior criminal convictions. The catch is that the individuals have to have stayed out of trouble, and the offenses they were convicted of cannot be violent, sexual, or related to drug trafficking. The new law also gives boards the leeway to deny licenses if the crime the person committed is connected to the field they hope to be licensed to pursue.
The law helps people with prior convictions enter careers in healthcare, cosmetology, and real estate, as well as other fields.
The law also allows people who are considering careers in a licensed field to reach out to the professional licensing board to see if they can receive a license before they begin the coursework required to attain the license. This would prevent people from investing time and money in the educational requirements for a field if they will not be able to be licensed in that field.
In Pennsylvania, one in five jobs requires a professional license, meaning that there are 5 million people in the state's workforce who hold professional licenses.
“Arbitrarily denying someone a job license because of outdated rules against criminal records is wrong," Governor Wolf said, as he signed the bill into law. “This new bipartisan law is a commonsense way to allow people to pursue the American dream and build a better life in Pennsylvania.”
Which Careers Are Impacted?
The new law is especially focused on providing licenses for “skilled workers” in fields such as cosmetology, accountancy, massage therapy, dentistry, and 25 other fields. “Skilled workers” is a term that usually refers to people who do work that requires additional education or schooling beyond high school.
The law also includes special considerations that ban boards from considering juvenile and expunged records and the law allows for temporary, one-to-two-year licenses, to be issued for barbers and cosmetologists who were trained inside of correctional facilities.
This new law will help Pennsylvania residents who have paid their dues to society and improved their lives find new opportunities to work. In such a politically divided time as we're living in, this law had bipartisan appeal and most people support it.
If you were previously convicted of a crime and have paid your dues and want to get on with your life, but you need help getting a professional license, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 and we will help you work with the licensing board so you can get back to work.