Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and other Senate and House leaders are reintroducing two pieces of bicameral legislation on Thursday, April 6th – the Fair Chance Act and the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act (REDEEM Act). Help generate letters of support, press releases, and social media to promote these bills, which go a long way to break down barriers to employment of people with records.
The Bills: The Fair Chance Act, which bans the box as applied to federal government and federal contractor employers (and delays the background check until the conditional offer of employment), will again be co-sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs (which has jurisdiction over the bill), Republican Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joni Earnst (R-IA), as well as a number of Democratic members. In the House, the bill is sponsored by Congressmen Cummings and Darrell Issa (R-CA), who are members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over the bill.
The REDEEM Act significantly expands the rights of juveniles and adults to seal and expunge their federal records, restricts the use of juvenile solitary confinement, lifts the ban on TANF and SNAP for lower level drug offenses, and incentivizes the states to limit the original jurisdiction of adult criminal. l courts to people over 18, and requires the FBI to adopt protections that ensure the accuracy of FBI rap sheets generated for employment screening purposes. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and co-sponsored by Senator Booker. In the House, the bill is sponsored by Congressman Cummings (D-MD), and co-sponsored by Karen Bass (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Lacy Clay (D-MO), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). In the House and Senate, the Judiciary Committees have jurisdiction over the bill.
Next Steps: To help support the efforts of Senator Booker and Congressman Cummings to raise the profile of these bills, we encourage your organizations to send letters of support to the ranking and minority members of the committees with jurisdiction over the bills. We also encourage your organizations to issue a press release on Thursday in support of the bills and to help spread the word on social media. NELP will share more details on the social media outreach later in the week (see #BantheBox, #CJReform, #SecondChanceMonth).
Last year, the Fair Chance Act was voted unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Senator Booker’s staff is expecting the reintroduced bill to be heard again soon by the committee. We will also be working with the Leaderships Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other organizations to generate a sign-on letter when the Fair Chance Act is scheduled for the mark-up to help ensure another unanimous vote.
If you have any questions about the bills, please feel free to also contact Roscoe Jones on Senator Booker’s staff (Roscoe_Jones@booker.senate.gov). On the House, contact Mark Stephenson on Congressman Cummings’s staff (Mark.Stephenson@mail.house.gov) with questions about the Fair Chance Act and Suzanne Owen (Suzanne.Owen@mail.house.gov) with questions about the REDEEM Act.