Legislation that would allow more people to set-aside qualifying crimes from their records and allow some people to see it happen automatically after 10 years was reported by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
The bills (HB 4980, HB 4981, HB 4982, HB 4983, HB 4984, HB 4985 and HB 5120) mostly moved on 12-1 votes with Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) voting no. Mr. LaFave sought to add operating while intoxicated to the convictions that could be set aside, which motivated his no votes.
Under what were described as small changes to the bills as introduced, the automatic piece in HB 4980 was changed to exempt from being set aside serious crimes involving dishonesty, like racketeering, something the Michigan Chamber of Commerce had pushed for, and a “more robust” definition of assaultive crimes, so crimes like domestic violence could not be automatically set aside.
The Michigan Sheriffs Association and the Michigan Chiefs of Police opposed the automatic piece, though supporters did not find that surprising and said it won’t affect the bill’s chance at final passage.
HB 4981, which involves traffic crimes, was changes to remove provisions blocking traffic offenses that occurred in school or work zones from being expunged.
Mr. LaFave offered an amendment to include first-time OWI offenses. Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) said the bill as written “is going to bring relief to a lot of people.”
“If we allow in driving while drinking offenses, we lose a lot of stakeholders and we may lose this bill,” he said during committee.
Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) agreed, saying it should be discussed in the future in different legislation.
The process of expunging marijuana crimes that could be legal under today’s laws was also changed in HB 4982 and HB 5120, which would allow prosecutors to object if they felt the crime would not be legal under today’s laws. Under the bill, prosecutors would have 60 days to file an objection.
Safe and Just Michigan and the Michigan League for Public Policy both praised the action on the bills.
“Michigan’s current expungement law is far too restrictive, and the process is so burdensome that just 6.5 percent of eligible people are able to complete it,” Safe and Just Executive Director John Cooper said in a statement. “This legislation takes important steps toward addressing these issues, as it would significantly expand eligibility for expungement and make expungement of certain convictions automatic after 10 years. We applaud Chairman Filler and the members of the committee for making these reforms a priority. They will open up opportunity for thousands of families in Michigan and will ultimately make Michigan safer, more prosperous, and more just.”
Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, said in a statement nearly anyone who commits a criminal offense right now is being given a de facto life sentence.
“The repercussions of a criminal record haunt these individuals for the rest of their lives, making it difficult to get a good job, rent an apartment, get a bank loan and more,” she said. “With this in mind, the punishment often goes far beyond the actual crime. This legislation is good for returning citizens and their families, but also for our local businesses and economies, and has widespread endorsement from the business community.”
Mr. Filler said he is incredibly proud to have worked with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on the issue.
“Too many good people are held back in life because of mistakes they’ve made in the past,” he said in a statement. “By removing barriers for people who have already answered for their crimes, we will build stronger communities, help local businesses grow and improve public safety.”
Original source: www.mirsnews.com
Release date: October 30, 2019