We can agree, as a region, that workforce development is a common issue area for every type and sector of business. We hear the conversations of “worker shortage” and hear the term “workforce development” thrown around in industry conversation, but often walk away from those conversations without a clear path forward or solution. We, as a Commonwealth, look to the General Assembly for fixes, resolutions and legislative action to assist with this issue area, but it seems like the rhetoric is always the same.
PA State Representative Sheryl Delozier (R-88th) has changed that rhetoric, putting an emphasis on clean slates and fresh starts through bi-partisan cooperation developing legislation that was signed into law to seal low-level criminal records after 10 years without a subsequent criminal arrest.
Act 56 of 2018, also known as Clean Slate, automatically seals records, through a computer system, of second- and third-degree misdemeanor criminal convictions after 10 years without a subsequent arrest, prosecution or conviction. The records sealing occurs between June 2019 and June 2020.
Governor Tom Wolf’s administration has estimated that the law will seal up to 30 million cases by June 2020 which is half of the courts’ entire database, according to Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.
Clean Slate isn’t a quick fix. Those convicted also have to do their part. Through this law, Rep. Delozier is keeping people accountable for their actions, but it’s also a way to ensure that hardworking Pennsylvanians are not held back by a single, minor mistake they’ve made.
Rep. Delozier summed up the meaning of this legislative action perfectly in her Clean Slate press release.
“Sometimes people make stupid mistakes in their youth,” Rep. Sheryl Delozier said. “Minor indiscretions should not prevent someone years later from getting a job or obtaining good housing. As author of this new law, I encourage anyone with a nonviolent criminal record to see if they are eligible for this opportunity. It is an honor to spearhead this effort and help make Pennsylvania a leader in the movement to erase a minor indiscretion from a person’s record.”
Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to enact this type of legislation.
Rep. Delozier’s work did not stop at just Act 56. She continues to be a trailblazer in the legislature and in the arena of workforce development as it pertains to getting those convicted a second chance. As she has partnered with Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) to develop the Clean Slate program in Pennsylvania, they also have introduced House Bill 1555 for probation/parole reforms and House Bill 1477, which would ensure past convictions are not Page 105 of 116
prohibiting someone from obtaining occupational licensure, unless the conviction is related to the career field.
Rep. Delozier had an opportunity to cross party lines, in a time where it seems like polarization is at an all-time high, to ensure that “workforce development” isn’t just a term thrown around in a conversation. It’s series of initiatives, a legislative priority and an opportunity to change lives.
During the introduction of the Clean Slate legislation it was shown that 81 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the “Clean Slate” bill, and 92 percent support breaking down barriers to help those with criminal records successfully re-enter society. Few bills ever see such widespread, bipartisan, and near-unanimous support.
The last section of this application is to discuss the “Impact of Actions on the Regional Business Community.” The impact of Rep. Delozier’s work in the PA House of Representatives goes far beyond this legislative session. Her work, along with her House colleague Rep. Harris, as well as Senator Judy Schwank and Senator John DiSanto is contributing to a strong economy, strong region, and stronger Pennsylvania.
Representative Sheryl M. Delozier is currently serving her sixth, two-year term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on behalf of the residents of the 88th Legislative District in Cumberland County, which includes Lower Allen and Upper Allen townships; Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Shiremanstown and Wormleysburg boroughs. Rep. Delozier was involved with the Chamber & CREDC before seeking office and has stayed active since being elected. She is a regular at the Government Affairs Committee of the Chamber and participates in many Chamber & CREDC events and activities.
To sum up this nomination through the criteria for this Award:
Rep. Delozier has demonstrated the Chamber’s motto of “Bold Leadership” through her Clean Slate Legislation, an issue that many may have not touched, plus doing it in a bi-partisan approach.
This legislation marks a significant shift in Public Policy from the “lock everyone up” philosophies dating back to the early 1970’s, to a more traditional “Quaker” approach to rehabilitation and providing low level offenders with second chances. This legislation will make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands Pennsylvanians.
While helping people get their lives back on track, there is a positive Impact of her Actions on the Regional Business Community by adding qualified applicants to the workforce pool, when in the past many of these people would not have even been considered due to minor criminal records from decades ago.