Contact: State Rep. Zack Taylor
Phone: (405) 557-7372
OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law today a bill that could help non-violent offenders with felony convictions find high-paying jobs.
House Bill 1373, by state Rep. Zack Taylor, known as “Fresh Start Act,” will allow people with felonies on their records the opportunity to still seek occupational licensing for certain professions as long as the crimes do not substantially relate to the practice of the occupation. Taylor said the bill accomplishes occupational licensure reform in conjunction with criminal justice reform.
“Our laws should encourage those non-violent offenders who have paid their debt to find work so they can be productive, provide for their families and reduce the likelihood of recidivism,” said Taylor, R-Seminole. “This bill gives those non-violent offenders hope that if they meet the qualifications for an occupational license they will have the opportunity to make a good wage and improve their lives and not be disqualified because of arbitrary language in the law.”
Current state law is vague when it comes to occupational licenses, requiring that applicants be “of good moral character or have not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.” House Bill 1373 requires the state entities charged with oversight of occupational licenses to explicitly list the specific criminal records that would disqualify an applicant, and the bill allows for denial of licensure only for a conviction of a crime that substantially relates to the practice of that occupation and poses a reasonable threat to public safety.
The bill becomes effective November 1.