Update on Expungment Bill

Thank you for your interest in and support of our efforts to pass much-needed changes to the expungement law in Georgia! The bill did not pass this session, but we made considerable progress, and will keep you posted as we move forward. Read on for a blow-by-blow of our efforts this session.

HB 402 enjoyed widespread support in the 2011 legislative session by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The bill was introduced in late February by Representative Mark Hatfield and was unanimously passed out of the House Judiciary Committee days before Crossover Day, the deadline for bills to pass and cross to the other chamber or be forced to wait until next session. Unfortunately, due to timing and other circumstances, HB 402 was unable to make it out of the Rules Committee for a vote on the House floor before the crossover day deadline. Soon after HB 402 missed the deadline, in an effort to save the bill, the House Judiciary Committee attached the provisions of HB402 to a bill that did make the crossover day deadline, SB 80 (DNA collection upon felony conviction). With time waning and the significant attention and focus by the Legislature on the state budget, some of the legislative leadership believed that attaching the expungement bill to the DNA bill confused the issues in both bills and decided to remove the expungement portion from SB 80.

With the favorable support of many legislators and the attention the issues of expungement and collateral consequences received this session, many people advised that the bill has a great chance of passing next year. In an effort to carry some of the momentum we attained in this session over to next session, Representative Jay Neal introduced a new expungement bill (HB 663) which incorporates many of the issues and concerns from various parties, including the prosecuting attorneys and the clerks of court. Representative Neal believes that by introducing a clean bill at the end of the 2011 legislative session to be passed in the 2012 session will further the momentum as well as create healthy dialogue between impacted parties to resolve as many of the potential issues as possible.

Stay tuned for updates on HB663’s progress. And thank you again for your support. If you’d like to make a donation to support our direct legal service to those facing barriers to housing or jobs because of their criminal record, please click here.