Legislature: Legislation To Support Reentry Into Employment Passes House


Legislation designed to assist people who are seeking gainful employment, but have a criminal record, has passed the House of Representatives Thursday. 

With bipartisan sponsorship from Representative Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) and Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque), House Bill 96 revises the list of criminal records that cannot be considered in an application for public employment, licensure, or other authority to practice a trade, business or profession. Similar legislation has been shown to improve employment opportunities for people with criminal records, without compromising public safety, in New Mexico and in other states. 

HB 96 would expand the list of criminal records that cannot be considered to include: 

  • Convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or pardoned.
  • Juvenile adjudications. 
  • Convictions for a crime that is not recent enough and sufficiently job-related to be predictive of performance in the position sought. 

“Every crime committed should not result in a lifelong ban from getting good jobs or professional licenses. The reality is that 1 in 3 adults have a criminal record, and 1 in 5 jobs require a license to work,” said Rep. Romero. “House Bill 96 rightly expands the current and overly restrictive narrow list of exclusions in New Mexico, providing a reasonable pathway to gainful employment based on a fair vetting process.”

The bill also prohibits state-regulated boards from excluding qualified individuals from licensure solely based on previous arrests or convictions, unless it was a disqualifying conviction. It also requires all state licensing boards to create a specific list of such offenses, and disallows the use of the terms “moral turpitude” or “good character” in disqualifying offenses. Finally, these boards must produce an annual report on the number of candidates, licenses granted, and applicants with potentially disqualifying convictions. 

House Bill 96 passed the House with a 55-12 vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.