As momentum grows for the issue of felony expungement legislation, the House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 40 after hearing testimony from Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson and others Wednesday.
The legislation, which 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, cleared the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday and will move to the House floor for a vote.
In the meeting, Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson expressed the business community’s support of the issue after the Chamber’s Board voted to adopt the policy this fall.
Adkisson told legislators the skills gap faced by Kentucky’s workforce is only going to get worse and noted that this legislation could put as many as 94,000 people back into the workforce.
“Our view on workforce is that we need all hands on deck. We cannot allow portions of the public that were previously marginalized, whether it is disabled or elderly workers or in this case former felons, to just be treated with a broad brush and just say ‘OK, they don’t deserve to ever do meaningful work because they made a mistake when they were 20 years old,” Adkisson said.
Also speaking in support of the legislation was Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes who said she has spoken with large and small employers and all express the need for a skilled workforce which Grimes believes this could help.
Grimes and others also thanked the Kentucky Chamber for support of the issue.
Hear testimony from Adkisson, Grimes and bill co-sponsor Rep. David Floyd in the video below:
The committee also heard from Rebecca Collett, a Louisville mother with a Class D felony on her record who also spoke at the Kentucky Chamber press conference on the issue last week.
Collett 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 and asked the committee to pass this legislation to help others like her get their lives back on track after previous mistakes.
Speaking on behalf of the new Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition, which includes the Kentucky Chamber, Russell Coleman expressed support of the legislation and discussed his personal views on the issue as a former FBI agent with more extensive law enforcement background.
Hear from Collett and Coleman in the video below: