Springfield passed two bills last night that would make it easier for someone with a criminal record to get a license to work.
About a quarter of all Illinois residents need an “occupational license” from the state to do their jobs, according to a recent White House report..
But those can be hard to get if you have a criminal history.
One of the bills passed last night makes it easier to get an occupational license for things like roofing, barbering, or directing a funeral home. The other bill makes it easier to get a license for people working in healthcare.
Representative Marcus Evans sponsored one of the bills.
“I grew up on the South Side of Chicago where a lot of folks have criminal backgrounds because they made mistakes,” said Evans. “Bills like this get folks off the sidelines.”
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issues most of the state’s occupational licenses. According to data it provided to WBEZ, of the 20,113 applications for licensure the department received from April 2015 to April 2016, only 197 had a conviction history.
By comparison, roughly 30,000 inmates are released from Illinois prisons each year.
IDFPR data indicates that 86 of those 197 applicants with a conviction were issued a license. And none were denied. But most, 111 applicants, were put into the “pending” category —where an application can sit for up to three years before expiring.
There are still dozens of other jobs that require licenses that are not addressed in these two bills.
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner now has 60 days to sign or veto the bills.