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AFP Supports Occupational Licensing Reform for Returning Citizens

Sep 22, 2020 by AFP

Grassroots group tells Senate “Good Moral Character” clause is unnecessary barrier to work

Lansing, Mich. — A little-known clause in Michigan’s licensing and regulatory bureaucracy can stand between hard-working citizens and an opportunity to support their family.

Known as the “Good Moral Character” clause, under Michigan law today, the state’s licensing bureau can deny an application for an occupational license if the person applying has a criminal record, even if there is no reason to believe the applicant would pose a threat to public safety if granted the license. A package of bills heard today in the Michigan Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform would change that.

In written testimony State Director Annie Patnaude told the committee:

“For too long, Michigan’s licensing and regulatory bureaucracy has unduly burdened Michiganders who have paid their debt to society, turned their life around, and tried to do the right thing despite multiple barriers in their way.”

Originally introduced last spring, HB 4488-HB 4493 passed the house earlier this month. The bills would still allow the good moral character clause to be used to deny applications for licenses where the applicant would pose a clear threat to public safety in that role, but would require the state’s licensing board to provide reasons for each denied application and report on its use of the clause annually.

“In a time when our state faces a demanding and unprecedented economic recovery, it is especially important that every Michigander have a clear path to achieving their potential whenever possible,” added Patnaude, “HB 4488-4493 will expand access to meaningful work and the ability to earn a living in our state while maintaining public safety and security.”