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Clean Slate Act advances through committee: How close is a vote?

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A proposed bill in New York that would seal the criminal records of many individuals is moving forward in the state Senate. The measure, known as the Clean Slate Act, recently received approval from a key committee in the chamber. The bill is aimed at making it easier for people who have completed their sentences to obtain employment and housing.

The proposal is still in doubt, however, as supporters hope to either have the provision included in the state budget or approved by June 8, the final day of the legislative session. The Clean Slate Act has undergone changes in recent months to address concerns that sex offenders would not be covered, but concerns remain among Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt cited the measure on Monday as potentially making the state less safe, as lawmakers are being pressured to address other measures in the criminal justice system this year, such as the state’s bail laws. Ortt argued that the current proposal does not make communities safer and opposes the bill due to the public safety needs of New Yorkers.

Despite Republican opposition, supporters of the legislation point to studies that have shown that people who have had their records sealed were less likely to be convicted of a crime than members of the general public. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the measure as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul negotiate a state budget that is due to pass on April 1.

The proposed bill has garnered support from a coalition of progressive organizations as well as business groups hoping to expand the labor pool. The Clean Slate Coalition, a group supporting the legislation, urged the legislature and Gov. Hochul to pass the Clean Slate Act immediately, stating that it would break cycles of intergenerational poverty and allow all New Yorkers to contribute to their communities.

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