Legislation to Create Pathways to Employment Signed into Law
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Bipartisanship opened doors for a new law that creates employment opportunities for Oklahomans recently released from state custody.
House Bill 3002, by Sen. Zack Taylor and Rep. Cyndi Munson, was signed into law on Wednesday.
The new law amends the requirements and qualifications for five occupational licenses. The licensure changes involve the Oklahoma scrap metal dealers, the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, motor vehicle dealers, used motor vehicle dealers, and the Oklahoma Micropigmentation Regulation Act.
“Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is low, which is great. However, the pandemic decimated our workforce,” said Munson, D-OKC. “Removing unnecessary barriers to employment, especially those in high demand, can help our economy. This new law is a step in that direction.”
The law maintains each licensing entity’s ability to consider criminal history. However, the entity must identify if the crime relates to the occupation and is a threat to public safety.
“It’s important that we streamline our occupational licensing requirements and allow all Oklahomans opportunities to succeed,” said Taylor, R-Seminole. “This measure will allow Oklahomans that have felonies on their records to have more employment opportunities but not at the risk of public safety. We included important safeguards to ensure the licensing board must take past crimes into consideration and make sure an applicant does not pose a public safety risk performing the job for which they’ve applied. This measure really opens the door for non-violent offenders and allows them to re-enter society and earn an honest living.”
Oklahoma benefits from a low recidivism rate compared to other states. However, the state’s high incarceration rate means the number of people who return to prison in Oklahoma is still a large population.
“This bipartisan effort to prioritize employment opportunities for individuals recently released from state custody will change lives,” Munson said. “Financial stability is often the difference between a happy, productive life and prison. I hope we continue to build on this momentum to create a criminal justice system that focuses on rehabilitation.”