HARRISBURG – The PA Senate approved a bill designed to remove barriers to licensure for people with previous criminal convictions. Senate Bill 637 designates a licensing board go through a two-stage review when considering whether a person’s criminal conviction disqualifies them from licensure. Men and women who had already served their sentences were finding themselves automatically disqualified when applying for occupational licenses. Part of the review designated by the bill includes asking the applicant if the crime was directly related to the occupation they are pursuing. If the answer is no, the review moves to further questioning to determine whether issuing the license would create a substantial risk to patients or clients or risk of re-offense. PA’s current occupational licensing laws deny many qualified residents the right to work because of an old or irrelevant criminal record. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.