Bipartisan “Clean Slate” Expansion Clears House Committee

Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advance H.B. 689 – bipartisan legislation that seeks to build on Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation Clean Slate law.

Enacted in 2018, this policy expedites the expungement process by automatically sealing old criminal records if the individual has remained crime-free for a period of time.

The PA Chamber worked with a strong bipartisan group of lawmakers to develop the first iteration of Clean Slate, address concerns from the business community and get the bill across the finish line. Since then, the policy has been well received by employers, advocates supporting Pennsylvanians with criminal records, and job seekers alike who recognize its help in building a robust, dynamic, and well-trained workforce.

H.B. 689 expands record-sealing eligibility to individuals with certain low-level, non-violent felony charges on their record, with the goal of encouraging them to find a job and reenter society.

Prior to the bill’s consideration, the PA Chamber sent a memo to the committee urging its members to support the bill.

“Advocates for and direct beneficiaries of Clean Slate report that this policy encourages individuals to reenter the workforce, look for employment, apply for and accept jobs and apply for promotions. We believe those expressing these sentiments. This population represents a potentially vast pool of under-tapped talent in Pennsylvania, and we urge the committee to support H.B. 689 to help facilitate their employment,” the PA Chamber wrote.

House Bill 689 now awaits further consideration by the full House.

PA Chamber Statement on Biden Administration Vaccination and Testing Mandates

PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s announcement that he is mandating employee vaccination or weekly testing at businesses with 100 or more employees:

“The Pennsylvania Chamber will be examining the full scope of these orders, to evaluate their impact on a private sector that has continued to battle numerous financial, workforce, health and safety challenges resulting from this pandemic.

“Our organization shares questions and concerns about this plan with the rest of the nation’s business community – including whether employers will have access to funding to help pay for expanded testing; how penalties for non-compliance will be enforced; and – perhaps most notably – whether liability protections exist for businesses acting in compliance with the latest round of OSHA standards. The Pennsylvania Chamber has spent the past year and a half advocating for liability protections for employers who have been following state and federal health and safety guidelines, and the ambiguities in these directives further highlight the need to get meaningful liability reforms in place as soon as possible.

“Through our ‘Bringing PA Back’ initiative, the PA Chamber remains committed to providing employers with the updated information and resources they need to keep their workers and customers safe and healthy. We continue to believe that employers can and should be trusted to make public health decisions that are in the best interest of their communities. We urge the Biden administration to offer business owners the clarity and flexibility they deserve as they strive to meet these new expectations while working to keep our struggling economy afloat.”