DOVER, Del. (AP)- Delaware’s governor has signed a package of bills into law aimed at making it easier for formerly incarcerated people to get professional licenses in some trade fields.

Gov. John Carney signed House Bill 7, House Bill 124 and Senate Bill 43 on Monday, which supporters say they hope will improve employment access by removing roadblocks for ex-convicts facing reentry challenges after prison.           

Together, the three bills are designed to help job-seekers obtain licenses in several trade fields as plumbers, electricians and massage therapists.           

“Formerly incarcerated individuals face barrier upon barrier when they come home, from trouble accessing transportation to housing, and it all comes down to what follows them – their criminal record. With these new laws, we are opening the doors to hope and showing these individuals that they are more than their worst mistake,” said Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, prime sponsor of HB 7.

The bills modify the impact of criminal history on applicant’s license eligibility by allowing the massage board and electrical examining board to grant waivers for people with certain felony convictions to obtain licenses. It also prohibits the boards from considering some convictions that are more than 10 years old.

The three bills overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly during the session. They were part of a 17-bill package announced in March. Eleven of those bills have been sent to Carney for his signature.

“One of the most critical components of our criminal justice system is getting ex-offenders back into society and making sure they can find good-paying jobs,” said Carney. “This legislation builds on our efforts to make sure those who served out their sentences can positively contribute to their communities.” 

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