On Wednesday, the House and Senate voted to override Governor McMaster’s veto of the Greenville Chamber’s top priority: expanding expungement laws for one-time, low-level offenders in order to expand South Carolina’s workforce.
As we travel and meet with businesses across our eight-county region of the Upstate Chamber Coalition, the number one issue we hear about from investors are their struggles to find workers. South Carolina, and the Upstate particularly, has a business-friendly climate and has done well attracting business and jobs. What has not come with the jobs is the workforce so desperately needed to fill them. Expanding expungement laws will allow individuals to re-enter the workforce, fill these jobs, provide for themselves and their families, and bolster South Carolina’s overall economy. For May 2018, the national unemployment rate was 3.6%, and South Carolina’s unemployment rate was 2.8%. For May 2018 in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin MSA, the unemployment rate was 2.6%. Growing our workforce from within is essential to make sure we keep the businesses we’ve attracted and continue to attract more.
H.3209 is bi-partisan legislation that an alliance of business groups — including the Greenville Chamber, the Upstate Chamber Coalition, the Charleston Metro Chamber, the Columbia Chamber, the South Carolina Chamber, the National Federation for Independent Business and several other business associations — has pushed for the past two years. This bill will remove workforce barriers for thousands of individuals who made a one-time, nonviolent mistake, served the sentence for that mistake, and have since maintained a clean record. There’s also language in the bill that would protect businesses from liability from hiring individuals with previous misdemeanors and felonies expunged under this law.
The bill would….
- Allow for expungement of a crime no longer on the books if the person otherwise qualifies for expungement.
- Allow a set of convictions committed at the same time to be bundled and expunged jointly.
- Allow a person to expunge a lower-level drug conviction one time after staying clean for three years.
- Allow a person to expunge a Possession With Intent to Distribute drug conviction one time after staying clean for twenty years.
- Allow those that were not sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA), but would have otherwise qualified, to apply for an expungement.
- Sets up an account at each solicitor’s office to collect private donations to cover up to half of the $250 fee required to process an expungement.
- Protect employers that hire workers with expungements from frivolous lawsuits related to the expungement.
- Protect workers who have received an expungement from being forced to disclose the expungement.
- Require Law Enforcement to keep a permanent, non-public record of all expungements.
The bill would NOT….
- Allow or expand expungements for violent offenses, sex crimes, criminal domestic violence or DUI.
Ultimately, this bill will remove workforce entry barriers for thousands of individuals. It truly seeks to help give second chances to those that are eager to give back to our economy and to give businesses more workers to fill their critical shortages. This bill will expand labor force participation rates, reduce recidivism, and improve per-capita incomes in South Carolina.
The Chamber would like to thank all of our Representatives and Senators that voted for H.3209 during the two-year session, and those that voted to override the Governor’s veto this week. We commend you for your commitment to making South Carolina, and the Upstate, the best place to live and do business.
For more questions on this legislation or the Chamber’s policy positions, please contact Katie Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org.