Wagner’s ‘Clean Slate’ bill gets unanimous support from Senate Appropriations Committee

HARRISBURG — A bipartisan bill that would call for the automatic sealing of criminal records for minor offenses received the unanimous support of the Senate Appropriations Committee and will head to the State Senate for full consideration, one of the bill’s sponsors announced Monday.

Senate Bill 529, sponsored by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) is designed to eliminate the hurdle that individuals with criminal records face when seeking opportunities, particularly for employment, Wagner’s office announced in a press release. The bill, along with its companion measure in the state House, are the first “Clean Slate” bills of their kind in the nation.

“Senate Bill 529 would allow for the automatic sealing of low level, non-violent criminal offenses, eliminating the need for individuals to petition the court,” Wagner said in the release. “This legislation will create new opportunities for men and women across the Commonwealth who have dealt with barriers due to minor criminal records, providing a ‘Clean Slate’ going forward.”

Under the legislation, misdemeanors would be sealed after 10 years of the individual being crime-free and as long as court obligations have been met. Non-convictions would be sealed after 60 days and fulfillment of court obligations.

It also exempts individuals from having to disclose sealed criminal records, a current hurdle for individuals attempting to obtain a job or housing.

“A bedrock of the criminal justice system is that individuals serve time and reintegrate themselves into society,” said Williams. “Successful reintegration requires access to opportunity. This bill gets us closer to that goal.”