DUNCAN, Okla. — A bill previously signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will go into effect on Friday, Nov. 1, allowing those with nonviolent felony records a chance to seek occupational licenses for certain professions.
House Bill 1373, which was authored under State Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, opens the doorway to more professions for those who have been convicted of felonies deemed nonviolent or not sexual in nature and allows help re-entering the workforce.
Additionally, the law requires “the state entity charged with oversight of occupational licensure to explicitly list the specific criminal records that would disqualify an applicant for a particular occupation, and allows for denial of licensure only for a conviction of a crime that substantially relates to the practice of the occupation and poses a reasonable threat to public safety.”
The law, which will apply to most licensed trades, “is aimed at helping reduce Oklahoma’s incarceration rate in a way that still protects public safety,” according to Taylor.
“This will give people that have made mistakes in their past a second chance at professional licensing,” Taylor said. “This doesn’t hide a person’s criminal record or require a business to hire them, but it does remove the barrier of restrictive licensing in many cases.”
Before the reform, state law wasn’t specific enough when it came to occupational licenses, but instead required those seeking licensure were “of good moral character or have not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.”
The law will also include criminal conviction disqualification last no longer than five years, so long as the crime is nonsexual and nonviolent in manner and no other convictions are handed down within that five year timeframe.
Belew writes for The Duncan Banner, a CNHI News Service publication.