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Michigan drops felony checkbox from job and licensing applications

It's now a little bit easier for convicted felons to get a job and certain licenses with the state of Michigan. The checkbox asking applicants if they have been convicted of a felony is being removed from the state's job posting website and from occupation and construction code licensing applications, according to a press release. Gov. Rick Snyder signed an executive order on Friday, Sept. 7 removing the checkbox before job applications on NEOGOV. The box will be replaced with "an affirmation of good character statement," according to the release. Furthermore, Snyder is hoping private employers will also start the process of removing the checkbox from job applications or moving it to later in the process. In an interview with the Associated Press, Snyder said he wants Michigan to be a "role model" when it comes to felony checkboxes. Snyder hopes the move creates more employment and economic opportunity in Michigan. "The continuation of Michigan's comeback depends on all populations and communities being part of our success," he said. "We have to keep working to reduce barriers to employment, and by modernizing our system to move outside the box, we can offer second chances to many residents who are ready to work and already trained for the exact jobs that employers are desperate to fill." The AP reports that a state job applicant's criminal past may be taken into consider later in the process and some people may not be able to fill certain jobs if their crime is somehow related to the position. The move comes a year after Snyder signed a bill into law that removed a prohibition on the Michigan Department of Corrections from hiring convicted felons. Both conservative and liberal groups applauded Snyder's decision. "These latest reforms announced by Gov. Snyder will increase job opportunities for Michigan citizens who need them most, a positive step in the right direction for both workforce development and our criminal justice system," said Jarrett Skorup of the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Kimberly Buddin, policy counsel at the ACLU of Michigan, thinks the move is a step in the right direction. "Policies and practices like this benefit communities and employers alike," she said. "We hope Michigan's leadership will continue to adopt additional comprehensive policies that further dismantle barriers to self-sufficiency for returning citizens."