Legislature overrides governor’s veto of expungement bill business leaders say will expand workforce

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South Carolina legislators overrode Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of a bill that makes it easier for people to have certain crimes expunged from their records and business leaders say will help employers find workers.

The Greenville Chamber of Commerce fought for the bill, as did the Upstate Chamber Coalition, an alliance of 11 chambers to which it belongs, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

“Simple one-time nonviolent mistakes will not result in lifelong sentences,” said Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber president and CEO, in a statement. “People who have paid their debt to society will now get a second chance to take care of their families and pursue their career and professional goals.”

The law expands expungement possibilities for low-level, nonviolent felony offenses and first-offense drug possession.

Offenders could apply for expungement following three years of good behavior. The State Law Enforcement Division would continue to keep a record of their crimes, but it would not be available to employers or the general public.

The law also protects businesses from liability from hiring individuals with previous crimes expunged under this law.

Phillips said the law would expand the state’s workforce.

“With unemployment in Greenville below 3 percent and thousands of critical jobs left unfilled, it is imperative that we increase our labor pool. Thousands of South Carolina citizens who have been convicted of low-level, nonviolent felony offenses will now be able to have their offenses removed from their respective criminal records, thus removing a key barrier to securing gainful employment for those who want to be productive and contributing citizens,” he said.

The law will take effect in six months.

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