Senator Judy Schwank

Harrisburg, June 25, 2020 − The Pennsylvania Senate approved a bill introduced by Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th district) and Sen. John DiSanto (R-15th district) that enacts a series of reforms designed to remove several barriers to licensure for Pennsylvanians with criminal convictions.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

SB 637 designates a licensing board or licensing commission go through a two-stage review when considering whether an individual’s criminal conviction disqualifies him or her from licensure, Schwank said.

Before, men and women who had already served their sentences were finding themselves automatically disqualified when applying for occupational licenses.

Part of the review designated by SB 637 includes asking the applicant if the crime was directly related to the occupation her or she is pursuing. If the answer is no the review moves to further questioning to determine whether issuing the license would create a substantial risk to patients or clients or risk of re-offense.

“Finding a job is one of the most important factors in a person’s successful re-entry to their community, to their lives and to their families,” Schwank said. “The way our system worked with automatic disqualifications; the original punishment often carried well beyond the intended sentence. That is not right. This legislation will help them to make that first big step toward employment and the rest of their lives.”