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Tennessee Legislature Passes Fresh Start Act to Assist Convicts in Finding Employment

Johnson City Press

By Zach Vance

It’s not easy for someone with a criminal past to find employment, especially if the job they’re applying for is in one of the 110 occupations requiring a license in Tennessee.

Almost all of Tennessee’s occupational licensing boards can deny a license to anyone with a criminal record, including lower-level forms of crime classified as misdemeanors, but legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison will change that.

Passed by the House and Senate, the Fresh Start Act prevents occupational and professional licensing boards from denying an occupational license due to someone’s criminal record, unless the criminal offense is a violent felony or relates directly to an offender’s ability to perform the job.

Faison’s bill garnered 52 cosponsors in the House, ranging from the most liberal Democrats to the most conservative Republicans. Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, who’s also a gubernatorial candidate, were among those cosponsors.

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