There’s good news from Springfield! Thanks to 18 months of hard work by FORCE leaders and our criminal justice coalition partners, a new bill is moving. SB 42 House Amendment 1 increases health care job opportunities for people with records. It passed out of the Health Care Licensing Committee yesterday, Monday, May 18, 2015. If this bill is going to pass, it has to be called to a vote by Friday, May 23.
SB 42 HA 1 will help health care workers like LaKesia, who was fired after 14 years of employment in a nursing home because a new owner required background checks on all employees and found a low-level, non-violent, drug conviction in her past. And, it will make a difference for Chinita, who obtained a nurse’s assistant certification in Wisconsin but found, when she moved to Illinois, that she could not get a job due to an old retail theft conviction.
You can help men and women with records continue turning their lives around. With expanded job opportunities in the largest private sector industry in the nation, they can support themselves, care for their families, avoid poverty and contribute to our communities.
SB 42 HA 1 creates job opportunity in health care facilities like nursing homes for people with criminal records and breaks down barriers to licensure for health professionals with criminal records.
People can and do change their lives—we need to have a balanced system that recognizes when people have changed their lives to become strong members of their communities.
SB 42 HA 1 improves the Health Care Registry, administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), so that the online system focuses only on whether an applicant is eligible or ineligible for work in a health care facility—not whether they have a waiver.
Men and women who have qualified for waivers will have “green flags” when employers check the online registry instead of red flags currently used for individuals with records even when IDPH has approved waivers for them. Employers can still conduct their own background checks on prospective employees and retain the right to hire (or deny) whomever they choose.
In addition, SB 42 HA 1 will also remove low-level (misdemeanor) cannabis convictions from the list of disqualifying offenses under Illinois law.
The legislation will amend the Professional Regulation Law by creating a process that would allow a health care professional with a forcible felony conviction (excluding any sex offenses) to petition the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Licensing to obtain/reinstate his or her license following a five-year waiting period.