McClinton applauds governor for signing critical criminal justice reform into law

In her ongoing fight for criminal justice reform, state Rep. Joanna McClinton today is commending Gov. Tom Wolf for signing S.B. 637 into law. The bill removes outdated professional licensing barriers so skilled workers with criminal records can get a second chance and start good careers.

The bill makes the following improvements for the state’s 29 occupational licensing boards: 

  • Boards and commissions can no longer use a person’s criminal history to deny someone a license unless their criminal history is directly related to the occupation in which they are seeking licensure.
  • Directs boards to individually consider applications based on the offense, the amount of time since the conviction and the applicant’s personal progress and training, among other factors, before withholding licensure.
  • Requires boards to create a public list of criminal offenses that may prevent licensure.
  • Allows individuals to get a preliminary decision if their conviction is likely to disqualify them from licensure so they do not waste time and money on training. Individuals can still apply and present evidence to support their licensure.
  • Creates temporary licenses in barbering and cosmetology for reentrants trained in a correctional facility who otherwise would be denied a license because of their criminal record. Licensees can work one to two years and demonstrate competency.

“This is an important reform that advances our shared agenda on criminal justice reform and provides clarity on licensing laws,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “Although this is just one of many steps we must take, I applaud the governor for enacting this critical legislation.”

Boards cannot issue a license to someone convicted of a sexual offense to practice as a healthcare practitioner. Boards may not consider juvenile convictions or convictions that have been expunged under the Clean Slate law in determining eligibility. The Department of State and the licensing boards will develop a guide to help people with criminal convictions to apply for a license.

For more information or any questions related, residents may contact McClinton’s legislative office by phone or email: 215-748-6712 or