Bills wiping some criminal records head to gov’s desk

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    The Michigan Legislature on Thursday sent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a bill package reforming the state’s criminal expungement laws. 

    House Bills 4980 to 4985 and 5120, were approved Wednesday by the state Senate. With both the state Senate and House signing off on them, the bills now go to Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

    State Rep. Graham Filler at the bipartisan expungement press conference in Detroit, Sept. 9, 2019 | Ken Coleman

    The bipartisan legislation, which has been dubbed the “Clean Slate” plan, gives thousands of Michigan residents options to clear their records of old criminal convictions. Advocates for the bills have said the reforms will allow residents with previous criminal histories better access to housing and jobs. 

    State Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) — who chairs the state House Judiciary Committee that passed the bills — said the package is “going to solidify our state as a national leader in criminal justice reform.” 

    “Making expungement cheaper, easier and available to more residents than ever before will remove the barriers that hold too many people back,” he said. “This will change lives for the better by giving people access to the well-paying jobs they have always dreamed about, financing options so they can buy a home for their family and the educational opportunities they need to better their future.”

    Here is what the package does:

    • HB 4980 allows for certain convictions to be set aside after a period of 10 years, under certain circumstances.
    • HB 4981 would allow a traffic offense committed by an unlicensed person to be set aside.
    • HB 4982 deals with marijuana-related offenses and amends the process of expunging them.
    • HB 4983 amends the time period a person must wait to ask for their conviction to be expunged. 
    • HB 4984 increases the number of misdemeanors and felonies that may be expunged.
    • HB 4985 for certain circumstances allows expungement of multiple felonies in the same criminal transaction.
    • HB 5120 allows for certain criminal cases to be set aside but retains some nonpublic criminal records.
    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.