Gov. Matt Bevin joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Greater Louisville Inc., Commerce Lexington, state legislators and others in the Capitol Wednesday to express support for legislation to expunge the records of low-level offenders after certain criteria is met to help give people a second chance and get them back into the workforce.
Expungement legislation would allow individuals charged with a single, non-violent Class D (lowest level) Felony to have their record expunged after time is served and a waiting period has passed. Passage of such a bill would responsibly reduce some obstacles that currently limit businesses’ access to over 94,000 Kentuckians who could be eligible for expungement.
In November, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has adopted a policy that would help address Kentucky’s qualified workforce shortage by supporting legislation to provide work opportunities for individuals who are currently limited by a single past mistake.
At the press conference Wednesday, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson said it is “all hands on deck” when it comes to Kentucky’s workforce and while this is a new position for the business community, passage of such legislation would enable former offenders to be more productive citizens, pay taxes and meet family obligations as it helps them obtain and maintain employment. Hear Adkisson’s remarks below:
Governor Bevin expressed similar thoughts on low-level offender expungement, saying at the press conference he would like to see this done in order to help give Kentuckians a second chance.
“For these Class D felonies, of the type of which we are speaking, of a non-violent nature, they should be able to be expunged. I will sign that legislation, I will shepherd this to the degree I must and need to. It is time. I look forward to signing it,” Bevin said. “Again, my hats off to those of you who have made this possible and I appreciate those of you who are here today who care enough about this issue to make this topical. It’s important, it’s critical, it’s time.”
During his gubernatorial campaign, Bevin told the Kentucky Chamber in a sit down interview that he has long been a supporter of such initiatives.
Also speaking at the press conference Wednesday, bipartisan legislative support was expressed as state Senator Gerald Neal and state Representatives Darryl Owens and David Floyd all discussed the need for felony expungement legislation and ensured that the initiative will be pushed in each chamber of the General Assembly in the 2016 session.
Owens, the primary sponsor of the House legislation, said Wednesday he believes the Chamber’s voice is “critical” to the issue and said he believes the issue will pass this session.
Hear remarks from lawmakers below:
Other business community advocates also discussed why this issue is important to businesses across the state as passage of felony expungement legislation will be important to Kentucky’s workforce and more. Hear from Commerce Lexington President and CEO Bob Quick and Greater Louisville Inc. Senior Vice President Sarah Davasher-Wisdom in the video below:
“We want business owners to feel empowered to hire the right people. There should be no question when expungement reform passes that we are going to protect Kentucky’s employers. The three largest chambers in the Commonwealth would not be endorsing these measures if those protections were not guaranteed,” Davasher-Wisdom said.
Rebecca Collett, a Louisville mother with a Class D felony on her record, also spoke at the press conference Wednesday and explained the struggles she has faced because of her past mistakes when it comes to getting a job or even just being a part of her children’s lives.
Collett thanked the Kentucky Chamber and others for their efforts on this issue and urged legislators to follow suit. Hear her remarks in the video below: