In an effort to remove barriers to reentry for those exiting the corrections system, House Bill 497 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, which provides a certificate of employability for individuals following success in programs completed while incarcerated.
Sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, HB 497 tasks the Kentucky Department of Corrections with issuing this certification once programs are complete and also tasks the Department of Transportation with ensuring those leaving incarceration have necessary identification. The bill would also incentivize employers by providing limited liability protections, eliminating a ban on SNAP benefits for those convicted of a felony, and allowing use of Medicaid for necessary treatments if an 1115 waiver is issued. The certification of employability will not be issued to sex offenders, and there are other exclusions in the bill as well.
Moser noted the legislation will help individuals obtain documents essential to gaining meaningful employment, give those reentering society more confidence and tools to be successful, and incentivize businesses to become fair-chance employers.
A committee substitute passed with the bill adds a provision with curriculum around employment that is used in some prisons across the state that will standardize that and strikes some language around the Administrative Office of the Courts helping with some implementation work.
House Bill 497 passed the committee 9-0 and heads to the Senate on consent. It will then go back to the House for concurrence.