Weekly Legislative Update: March 23rd (Legislative Day: 34)

GJP’s Third Annual Lobby Day Was a Success 

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On Wednesday, March 11th GJP hosted our third annual Enhance the Chance Lobby Day at the Capitol. Well over 140 people participated from all over Georgia (including Columbus, Macon and Albany). We spoke to legislators about the challenges securing jobs and other opportunities with a criminal history in Georgia. We specifically asked lawmakers to vote YES on HB 310 (which will improve the effectiveness of the First Offender Act) and HB 328 (which provides a remedy for inaccurate private criminal history reporting to employers).

We are excited to report that both bills are moving through the legislative process and we expect them to pass before the legislative session ends on April 2nd. 

For more information about Lobby Day, including photos, click here

Celebration of Ban the Box on March 4th 

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On Wednesday, March 4th GJP hosted a celebration for Georgia becoming the fourteenth state, and the first in the South, to enact “ban the box” and remove questions about criminal history from the state’s employment application.

For photos from the celebration, click here

Status of 2015 Reentry Bills 

  • HB 310 – First Offender Act revisions improve the effectiveness of Georgia’s “second chance” law by requiring that all defendants are informed of their eligibility  and those not offered have a retroactive remedy.  The bill has passed the House on March 11th (164-5) and will now be considered by the Senate Public Safety Committee and is scheduled for a hearing this afternoon at 1:00pm.  
  • HB 328 – Private Background Check Reporting requires certain private background checking companies to either provide notice to the job applicant when they are going to provide negative information to an employer or check with the courthouse before reporting criminal record information. The bill will provide a state remedy for Georgians when these companies violate this provision. This bill was passed in the House on March 5th unanimously (170-0) and will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee this afternoon at 4:00pm.
  • HB 71 – Requires additional transparency and requirements for the pardon and parole process in Georgia. The bill passed in the House on March 3rd (162-8) and will also be considered by the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee this afternoon at 4:00pm. GJP understands the need to improve transparency within the pardon system in Georgia, but has concerns about the impact of provisions of the bill that will make it harder for Georgians who have been rehabilitated to move forward with their life after a felony conviction. To read GJP’s memo and proposed amendments to HB 71 click here.  
  • HB 9 – “Ban the Box” for all employers making it unlawful for any employer (public or private) to ask about an applicant’s criminal record on the initial application. The bill has been assigned to the House Industry and Labor Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
  • HB 134 – Work Opportunity Tax Credit – offers a tax credit to employers that hire people convicted of a felony within one year of release or conviction. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. 

With only 6 legislative days left, we are happy to report that we expect reforms this year that will improve the lives of people with criminal histories in this state!

Click below for previous updates from this session:

February 2, 2015 

February 9, 2015

February 16, 2015