Legislation & Lobbying

New laws in 2 Southern states make it more difficult to deny occupational licenses for past crimes

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A stamp that says licensed

Two Southern states passed occupational licensing reforms during the 2019 legislative session with procedural protections that make it more difficult to deny licenses based on criminal history.

The laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi have several similarities, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center.

Both laws:

• Eliminate vague “good moral character” criteria for obtaining a license.

• Bar denial of licenses for crimes unless they are “directly related” to the license.

• Require written reasons when a license is denied.

• Provide for a preliminary determination on whether an applicant will be favorably considered.

Both laws are influenced by a model law developed by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that has filed suits challenging occupational licensing requirements.

Eight other states also enacted new restrictions on the licensing process in 2019.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Movement to let the formerly incarcerated cut hair and drive taxis is gaining ground”

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