August 20, 2015
To the Honorable
The Illinois Senate,
Today I return Senate Bill 1702, which
imposes new burdens on ex-offender re-entry into the job market, with a
specific recommendation for change.
Senate Bill 1702 establishes licensing
requirements for manufactured home dealers, which are currently licensed under
other existing laws. I thank the sponsors, the Secretary of State, and
interested parties for their cooperative work on this legislation.
As part of the new statutory
requirements, Senate Bill 1702 would prohibit a person from obtaining a
manufactured home dealer’s license or from serving as an officer, director, or
significant owner of a manufactured home dealer if he or she has been convicted
of a “forcible felony,” which is defined to include specific serious crimes as
well as “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or
violence against any individual.”
We must be careful whenever we
disqualify ex-offenders from employment. While persons convicted of serious
crimes may not be suitable for certain positions, disqualification is
inconsistent with our goal of facilitating successful reentry of ex-offenders
into society. In this case, the definition of forcible felony is potentially
too broad: while it includes serious offenses like murder and rape, it also
includes “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force
or violence against any individual.” Courts have examined and attempted to
narrow the definition, but it remains open-ended and subject to frequent
litigation, particularly over more common offenses like assault and battery.
In addition, courts have instructed us
that a disqualifying offense must have a clear nexus to the position. The
connection between forcible felony and manufactured home sales is not apparent.
The bill’s proposed disqualification
would be permanent. Proponents of the bill have advised, however, that they
intended the disqualification be for a shorter duration, such as 10 years.
These ongoing discussions are further reason to remove the disqualification
provision from the bill.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(e) of
Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill
1702, entitled “AN ACT concerning transportation”, with the following specific
recommendation for change:
On page 8, by replacing
lines 5 through 15 with “(8) blank.”.
With this change, Senate Bill 1702 will
have my approval. I respectfully request your concurrence.