A House Bill that would remove the restriction on felons working in businesses that sell alcohol and lottery tickets was sent Thursday to the Senate. House Bill 1468 would also lift the requirement that employers with liquor licenses notify the state of any employees with felony convictions.
Bill sponsor Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) said the bill will not only make it easier for felons to find jobs, thus reducing recidivism; it will also make more workers available. She said her county, Boone, has the lowest unemployment rate in the state and more potential workers are needed.
“We need more people to fill these entry level positions and have a place to start, and this will also enable them to support themselves and their families,” said Toalson Reisch. “I like to use my local Casey’s General Store as an analogy. You cannot make pizza and donuts in the back because they sell lottery tickets and alcohol in the front.”
The bill passed with broad bipartisan support. Columbia Representative Kip Kendrick (D) said it is common sense legislation.
“These individuals who have paid their debt to society and are back out trying to make a living, we should be doing all that we can as a state to make sure that they are welcome back in their communities. Part of welcoming back is ensuring them access to jobs and employment opportunities … to make sure that they are finding ways to make a living and reintegrate back into society,” said Kendrick.
Ballwin Republican Shamed Dogan said the bill includes a provision that would prevent an individual from selling lottery tickets if convicted of a past crime that involved those.
“[Toalson Reisch] has worked these particular business owners. They’re very supportive of this for their own freedom to hire folks with a record and it’s something that is in line with a lot of the criminal justice reforms that we’ve supported that are pro-economic growth and pro-personal growth for these people,” said Dogan.
The legislation cleared the House 148-1. Last year several amendments were added to the proposal and it failed to pass out of the House, but this version of the bill has no amendments.
Its supporters include the Missouri Petroleum Marketers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Empower Missouri, and the Missouri Catholic Conference.