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Criminal past? New bill says licensing boards can’t say no

CARSON CITY — State licensing boards may soon be barred from denying an applicant based on their criminal history under a bill considered by lawmakers Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 363, sponsored and presented by Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, D-Las Vegas, would prohibit a licensing board from denying a license to an applicant on the basis of their criminal history, and would bar those boards from requiring the applicant to disclose information concerning their criminal history in certain circumstances.

“We have the opportunity to address a twofold issue,” Miller said. “Reduce recidivism while putting more Nevadans back to work, including in some of our occupations with labor shortages.”

Not all individuals with criminal histories would be exempt from providing their records. Applicants would be required to disclose if they were convicted of a felony, if they had been or currently are in prison or if they’d been released from prison in the last three years.

Under the bill, applicants can only be disqualified from getting a license if they have been convicted of a “potentially disqualifying felony offense” and if that offense directly relates to the job for which they’re applying. If an applicant is disqualified based on their criminal history, they can request a meeting with the executive director of the licensing body before the board’s final decision is rendered.

The bill would require boards to consider applications on a case by case basis in an effort to prevent boards from disqualifying applicants without cause, Miller said.

The bill drew support from several groups, including SEIU 1107, the Culinary Union Local 226, Americans for Prosperity and the Clark County public defender’s office.

“This is a common-sense piece of legislation that breaks down barriers and provides a pathway to a good job, which is one of the best ways to prevent recidivism,” said John Piro, a lobbyist for the public defender. “This bill is actually less about thinking outside of the box, and more about providing a pathway to inclusion, rehabilitation, resilience, and redemption.”

But the bill faced opposition from representatives speaking on behalf of the state pharmacy, accountancy, veterinary medicine, osteopathic medicine, professional engineers and contractors’ boards.

“It could possibly hinder our ability to ensure that the folks that we license are not likely to be any risk to the general public. We license individuals who are granted access to people’s homes and families. So we take the consideration of criminal backgrounds very seriously,” said Misty Grimmer, a lobbyist for the Nevada State Contractors Board.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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