The Ohio House State Government Committee took testimony April 5 regarding HB 169 which would
revise the laws governing issuance of certain professional licenses including the license to practice architecture.
In sponsor testimony, Rep. Williams said HB169 would prohibit boards and commissions from denying a license to
an individual convicted of certain crimes unless their crime is directly related to the occupation. She said, “HB169
will help reduce the [34 percent within three years] recidivism rate by allowing offenders to increase their chances
of gaining employment or to become entrepreneurs.”
Williams said there are 7,025 inmates currently participating in approximately 100 Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) vocational programs and 198 participating in apprenticeship programs.
ODRC programs include college-level courses and Ohio Penal Industries (OPI) jobs. She said, “The state of Ohio
trains and certifies offenders in various areas; however, despite the education and experience many released
offenders are unable to translate the education and experience into gainful employment in their chosen career
because of the current law governing issuance of certain professional licenses.”
In response to Chairman Mecklenborg, Williams acknowledged that boards and commissions have for the most part
opposed similar legislation in the past. She said they want to retain the ability to turn down any applicant on the
basis of “moral turpitude.”
Asking for additional research, Rep. Gerberry noted that a change in legislation was required to force the Ohio
State Barber Board to license prison-trained barbers; all of whom now are licensed within three months of release.
Williams told Rep. Clyde she has asked for data on denials, but that current law does not require boards and
commissions to keep data on applicants and denials.
Noting that background checks now include expunged convictions, Mecklenborg asked if the bill deals with
expungements. Williams replied, “Not at all.”
In response to Rep. Young, Williams suggested an alternative of requiring boards to show their rational for any
denial. Huffman offered an alternative of allowing appeals of any denial to a common pleas judge.
Rep. Lundy said, “Prison reform needs to step up on this issue – it’s important.” Williams told him vocational
training is not specifically addressed in prison privatization proposals, and that ODRC is looking at revamping their