During today’s session, State Representative Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) voted in favor of legislation that helps give ex-offenders a fair chance when looking for a job with public employers.

House Bill 56, a bipartisan measure sponsored by Reps. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton), prohibits public employers from including any questions on an employment application form that ask about an applicant’s criminal background. It also clarifies that public employees are only subject to automatic dismissal for felonies committed while employed in the public sector. In addition, HB 56 modifies current state law by now allowing certain records to be sealed if the victim is older than 16, as opposed to the old level of 18 years old.

“I am proud to support this legislation as it serves as the next step in allowing second chances for people to atone for their past mistakes and become a productive member of society,” Rep. Rezabek explained. “I am hopeful that we will continue to open more doors for ex-offenders allowing them to be self-sufficient individuals.”

Background checks on job applicants will still be conducted if the public employer wishes to go ahead with the hire, and the employer still has the right to reject an applicant based on his or her criminal record after the initial application has been filled out. However, this bill gives ex-offenders an opportunity to be evaluated based first on personal and professional qualifications, rather than on past criminal behavior.

The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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