Sen. Dan Seum wants knock down job barriers for ex-felons; supports medical marijuana

08/14/2012 08:58 AM

Too often in Kentucky ex-felons hit roadblocks when trying to get jobs.

State law and professional licensure boards in more than 60 areas can bar any ex-felons from getting a license. Other professions, such as police and heating and air conditioning contractors, outright ban anyone from being convicted of a felon.

But state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, said non-violent felons should be allowed a second chance to go into those professions.

“If it’s a minor felony, after 5 years we should be able to expunge that and they go back to being regular people” (2:01).

Seum, the Republican Senate caucus chairman, first raised the issue at a judiciary committee in Paducah on Aug. 3.

The Republican Senate caucus chairman from Louisville believes the restricting language in the work force against felonies needs to examined to allow for review of charges.

Seum also said he would support a constitutional amendment to allow ex-felons to get their voting rights back. Currently, Kentucky, Virginia and Florida are the only states that don’t automatically allow ex-felons to get back their rights to vote after serving their time. House Democrats have passed such a measure in past sessions but it has stalled in the Senate.

To gain support on such a bill it would be a discussion among the 22 Republicans in the caucus that Seum serves as the chairman of in the Senate.

“The fear here is that you would be perceived as easy on criminals, that’s the political fear. And of course, any opponent would use that against you” (5:35).

While Seum acknowledged that with technology it would be difficult for anything to be erased completely but the people with minor felony offenses should be able to work.

On another issue, Seum expressed support for legalizing medical marijuana. Democratic Sen. Perry Clark of Louisville has pushed such a proposal. Clark held a press conference last month to announce his effort to re-introduce the bill in 2013 and acknowledged that he smokes marijuana.

Seum said he would want to read the medical marijuana bill and see who would be receiving the drug and how it would be distributed.

But Seum clarified: “I don’t smoke pot.” (7:20).


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