The Governor must protect public safety by vetoing a bill to expand ability of convicted felons to expunge their records.
Senate Bill 731 prevents any business that conducts background investigations on its employees from accessing the critical information in most criminal records just four years after the offender completes their legal obligations. The bill places the public at risk by prohibiting citizens and businesses from checking the criminal histories of prospective candidates for employment, potential business partners, and mergers and acquisitions, beyond a four-year timeframe.
SB 731 prohibits banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, and app-based companies from meeting mandated background checks. It is feasible that employers may avoid hiring people who have California addresses in their background and may harm those previously living in California. In some cases, the look-back period must be at least ten years.
Furthermore, Governor Newsom must protect those domestic violence victims and many other Californians who deserve protection including the identification of those who have the potential to become active shooters and implement preventive safety measures to avoid loss of life. Businesses and non-profit agencies hiring individuals in financial positions will not be able to determine if the individual they are hiring has a conviction for financial fraud. There will be significant long-term consequences if Governor Newsom does not veto Senate Bill 731 by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) which will permanently seal access to criminal records to just four years.
SB 731 is also arbitrary and inconsistent. It provides several specific exemptions to allow the information to be used for:
- Education – teacher credentialing and employment.
- Firearms – authorization to own, possess or have a firearm.
- Peace Officers – applications for employment as a peace officer.
- Candidates – candidates for public office and state lottery contractors.
- In-Home Supportive Services – direct care services in a community care facility, foster family home, certified family home or resource family of a licensed foster family agency, childcare center and family childcare home, and a residential care facility.
- Law Enforcement – law enforcement agencies and prosecutors continue to have access to those individuals’ criminal records.
SB 731 recognizes the importance of this information in each of the above situations, but it prohibits the use of this information in many others where it is of vital importance to the protection of other members of our society including domestic violence or theft.
Several Democratic legislators displayed the courage to vote against SB 731 this summer including Senator Melissa Hurtado as well as Assembly Members Ken Cooley, Jim Cooper, Jacqui Irwin, Al Muratsuchi, Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Rudy Salas.
Governor Newsom must veto this bill so that the Legislature can revisit this important issue and strike an appropriate balance between the ability of convicted individuals to build a new life and the protection of the public.
- Governor Newsom Must Protect Vulnerable Millionsand Veto SB 731 - September 2, 2022