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Pa. House panel OKs so-called ‘clean-slate’ bill

The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve legislation intended to help people convicted of minor offenses shield their records from employers.

The move means that the legislation, which has had bipartisan support, now goes back to the House and Senate for review before it can go to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf.

State Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin County), the committee’s chairman, said he thinks the bill could be ready for the governor this spring.

The so-called clean slate legislation would automatically seal records after 10 years without people having to petition the court to do so, as long as they didn’t get into trouble again and fulfilled all obligations. The idea is that such workers have difficulty finding jobs or getting promotions if they have to include convictions on applications.

State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York County) has been a main sponsor of the bill. His staff said Monday that the bill has enjoyed widespread support from businesses, nonprofits and others.

“It’s common sense,” Wagner, a Republican running for governor, said during a press conference in December. “We should remove barriers for individuals who want to better their lives.”

However, some observers have noted that businesses can always hire such people and that it might be best if they have more information, rather than less. That would allow them to better manage someone who might have been convicted of a theft early in life and whether they should directly handle money, said Christopher Carusone, a partner with Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman, a law firm with offices throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including Harrisburg.

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