Bipartisan Justice Reform Would Increase Job Access
LANSING — State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) joined with state Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) and several other legislative colleagues at a press conference this week to introduce a plan that would expand expungement laws in Michigan to give thousands of residents with old, non-violent and low-level criminal convictions an opportunity for a fresh start. Also in attendance at the event were local representatives of UAW, LiUNA, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and SEIU, as well as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Research indicates that by 2026, Michigan employers will need to fill half a million skilled trades jobs, for which expungement could serve as an important tool by allowing many to obtain professional licenses required for certain jobs. In Wayne County alone, it’s estimated that 100,000 more people could become eligible for expungement under this plan.
“As a state built on the success of skilled labor professionals, it seems silly that we are facing such a shortage, especially with an abundance of hardworking Michiganders who are only held back by their past,” said Gay-Dagnogo. “Our bipartisan expungement package would help our community members access better employment opportunities; in turn decreasing recidivism, strengthening our local and state economies, and addressing our skilled labor shortage.”
Sponsors in addition to Gay-Dagnogo include state Reps. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Eric Leutheuser (R-Hillsdale), Pauline Wendzel (R-Watervliet) and Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville). The six-bill package includes legislation to:
- Leutheuser, HB 4980: establish automatic expungement for certain offenders.
- Wendzel, HB 4981: allow for the expungement of some traffic offenses.
- Meerman, HB 4982: allow for the expungement of marijuana convictions.
- Rabhi, HB 4983: shorten the eligibility period for expungement.
- LaGrand, HB 4984: expand the number of people who qualify for expungement.
- Gay-Dagnogo, HB 4985: allow forgiveness for acts committed during “one bad night.”