Weekly Legislative Update: February 16 (In Adjournment)

GJP Policy Recommendations Introduced to the General Assembly Last Week 

On Friday, February 12th two bills were introduced in the state house that include two of GJP policy recommendations that, if passed, will improve access to opportunities for Georgians with criminal records.

The first, HB 310 was introduced by Rep. Alan Powell (R – Hartwell) and takes steps to improve the effectiveness of Georgia’s First Offender Act by requiring that all defendants be informed about their eligibility for the “second chance law” before their case is resolved, and people who were not treated as first offenders can have a retroactive remedy. While these are steps in the right direction, there are still problems with the First Offender Law that will not likely be resolved by legislation this year, including reforms to ensure all public records are sealed and that successful first offenders can secure employment. When the First Offender Study Committee convenes later this year, GJP will advocate for these and other reforms to ensure first offenders are given a real second chance in Georgia.   

The other bill, HB 328, introduced by Chuck Efstration (R – Dacula) codifies certain provisions of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to require that certain private background checking companies either provide notice  to people when they are going to provide negative information to an employer or check with the courthouse before reporting criminal record information. The bill also provides a state remedy for Georgians when these companies violate this provision. Again, while helpful, the reforms proposed will do little to reform the private background checking industry  fraught with problems that cause many Georgians to be denied employment opportunities because of incorrect and outdated information. GJP will continue to advocate for reforms necessary to ensure consistent and accurate reporting by private companies. 

Both bills have been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, chaired by Rep. Rich Golick.

Other Reentry Bills Introduced This Session:

  • HB 9 – Ban the Box — making it unlawful for any employer to ask about an applicant’s criminal record on the initial application.
  • HB 134 – Work Opportunity Tax Credit – offering a tax credit to employers that hire people convicted of a felony within one year of release or conviction.

**Please stay tuned for information about the status of these bills and how you may be helpful in ensuring their passage this year. 

*Lobby Day Has Been RESCHEDULED to Wednesday, MARCH 11, 2015  

Please register for GJP’s Annual Enhance the Chance Lobby Day at the Capitol to be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 from 8:30am – 1:00pm.

**Please note that the date was previously March 12th but had to be rescheduled because of Senate Resolution 167, passed last Monday, that declared the General Assembly will be in adjournment on that day. 

Again, this will be our opportunity to come together and speak to lawmakers about the difficulties faced by people with criminal records who are trying to secure jobs, housing, and other opportunities in Georgia and about the negative impacts on taxpayers and communities. 

Your ongoing participation and support will be central to the passage of successful reforms that will improve the lives of the people we serve and we certainly appreciate it.

Thanks for all you do,

Marissa McCall Dodson
Policy Director & Attorney 

 

Click below for previous updates from this session:

February 2, 2015 

February 9, 2015

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