Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Lawmakers Pass Flurry of Bills

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Lawmakers Pass Flurry of Bills

Article excerpt

Saying New Jerseyans with criminal histories deserve a second chance, lawmakers passed a trio of measures to prohibit employers from asking about expunged criminal records and make it easier for people to legally delete their criminal histories. The Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly approved the bills a day after Gov. Chris Christie said they were a priority in the waning weeks of his administration. One, shortening the waiting period to scrub juvenile convictions to three years from five, passed both houses unanimously.

"A minor criminal offense should not lead to a lifetime of punishment," Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham, a Hudson County Democrat and sponsor of all three bills, said in a statement. "These bills are about removing barriers for residents and helping them to overcome the obstacles that exist in finding employment, taking care of their families and setting their lives on the right path."

The bills were among a flurry of measures the Senate and Assembly passed on Thursday, kicking off a lame-duck session for lawmakers whose terms end in January. Legislators passed bills prohibiting the intoxicated operation of drones, adding a surcharge on traffic tickets, and allowing horse tracks and casinos to partner on online gambling.

State law already prohibits employers from asking job candidates to disclose their criminal records during the initial application period. One of the bills approved Thursday would broaden that prohibition to include expunged criminal records, but it would not bar employers from asking about criminal histories in the later stages of employment screening.

In 2014, Christie signed a Cunningham bill forbidding employers to ask about criminal histories during the initial screening process. Current state law allows people convicted of generally minor offenses to petition a judge to expunge their criminal histories after 10 years. …

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