Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2021
Governor Whitmer Signs Additional Bills Expanding Criminal Justice Reform in Michigan
The governor also signed a series of bills into law
LANSING, Mich. -- Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of bipartisan bills, including the Good Moral Character and Clean Slate for Kids packages to further advance criminal justice reform in Michigan. Together, these bills will help ensure a fresh start for youth exiting the juvenile justice system, expand opportunity to enter licensed professions, and expand access to critical benefits like SNAP. This comes after the governor signed the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration “Smart Justice” bill package earlier today.
“Despite the challenges 2020 presented, I am proud of the incredible work we have done as a state to reform our criminal justice system,” said Governor Whitmer. “After establishing the bipartisan Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration we were able to make real and meaningful change that will impact the lives of thousands of Michiganders. I am eager to continue to work with the legislature in the new year to create a healthy and strong Michigan.”
“If we want to fix the school-to-prison pipeline, it starts with fixing our judicial system and investing in education,” said state Senator Sylvia Santana. “With today’s bill signing by the Governor, Michigan took a step huge forward in these areas by changing how we handle juveniles who run away from home, skip school, and disobey their parents. Under this new law, the number of days a juvenile can be locked up will be limited and the focus will be shifted to discovering the root cause of their behavior. I maintain my commitment to giving our youth a chance at the success they deserve through continued education and supportive resources, and I look forward to continuing our collective effort on more reforms with my colleagues.”
"When young people make a mistake, but then stay out of trouble and get their life back on track, we want to help them keep it on track by removing barriers to education and employment,” said state Senator Jeff Irwin.
“We should be encouraging returning citizens who continue on their path toward reform by removing the lasting barriers they face while trying to find a job,” said state Senator Jeremy Moss. “These bills will help end the prejudice against people with a criminal record who have paid their debt to society and are seeking to better themselves, provide for their families and contribute to Michigan’s economy. Our legislation is the result of years of bipartisan and bicameral efforts and I thank Governor Whitmer for her strong advocacy to change to how occupation licenses in Michigan are issued. This will have a real impact on many Michiganders by giving them a fair shot at a second chance.”
House Bills 4488-4492 and Senate Bill 293 comprise the Good Moral Character Package which reforms occupational licensing to expand opportunities for Michiganders post-conviction or post-judgment. The bipartisan bill package would place limits on a Board or Agency responsible for reviewing license applications from considering criminal convictions and civil judgments when determining if an applicant is of "good moral character" so that past convictions and civil judgments would be less likely to serve as a barrier to entry to licensed professions.
House Bill 4488 limits the situations in which a licensing board may consider criminal convictions and civil actions in determining an applicant’s good moral character. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo).
House Bill 4489 clarifies that the adjustments made in HB 4488 do not apply to determining “good moral character” for admission to the State Bar of Michigan and that for those purposes, good moral character would be determined by the Board of Law examiners. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Joe Bellino (R- Monroe County).
House Bill 4490-92 revise the definition of “good moral character” within specific acts to align with the changes in HB 4488. The bills were sponsored by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R- Manton), Rep. Beth Griffin (R- Mattawan), and Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D- Detroit)
Senate Bill 293 amends the Occupational Code to require the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to report annually to the legislature regarding applications for occupational licenses that were denied because of an applicant’s lack of good moral character. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jeremy Moss (D- Southfield).
Senate Bills 681 and 682 comprise the Clean Slate for Kids package which aims to ensure a fresh start for youth exiting the juvenile justice system. The bipartisan bill package would reform Michigan’s juvenile criminal justice laws to seal juvenile court records from public view and create a process to automatically expunge juvenile records for those who don’t commit future offenses.
Senate Bill 681 allows for expungement of traffic offenses for juveniles and automatic expungement for certain offenses committed by juvenile. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jeff Irwin (D- Ann Arbor).
Senate Bill 682 makes juvenile court records nonpublic beginning January 1, 2021, as well as expands the categories of people deemed to have a “legitimate interest” and therefore eligible to see closed court hearings and nonpublic documents. The bill was sponsored by Senator Peter Lucido (R- Shelby Twp.).
Governor Whitmer also signed the following criminal justice reform legislation into law:
Senate Bill 1006 amends the Social Welfare Act to allow individuals who committed a drug-related offense, or have outstanding warrants for such offenses, to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food assistance t. Senator Jim Ananich (D- Flint).
Senate Bill 700 requires the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act limit the use of secure juvenile detention facilities for status offender. The bill also adjusts the list of offenses for which a juvenile may be detained pending a hearing, removing the status offense of running away from home and adding the violation of a court order. The bill was sponsored by Senator Sylvia Santana (D- Detroit).
Senate Bill 893 amend the Youth Rehabilitation Services Act to change citations to the law to reflect changes in Senate Bill 700. The bill was sponsored by Senator Sylvia Santana (D- Detroit).
Senate Bill 894 amend the Juvenile Boot Camp Act to change citations to the law to reflect changes in Senate Bill 700. The bill was sponsored by Senator Sylvia Santana (D- Detroit).
The governor also signed additional bills into law today. The bills are outlined below: