Legislature Passes Bill to Create Certificates of Qualification for Employment for Ex-Offenders

This week, the Wisconsin Legislature sent to Gov. Evers’s desk a bill that would create a Council on Offender Employment to issue certificates of qualification for employment (CQEs) to ex-offenders. The bill seeks to reduce recidivism by helping ex-offenders re-enter the workforce.

Under the legislation (AB 30), the certificates issued by the Council would qualify ex-offenders for certain types of employment or licensing for which they would otherwise be ineligible based upon specific penalties associated with their criminal record. For example, a CQE would allow an ex-offender to get an occupational license for which he or she would, but for the CQE, be ineligible.

The bill additionally provides some immunity from liability for employers who hire employees with CQEs. Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce worked closely with the bill’s authors, Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), on the immunity provision to ensure that employers are protected from frivolous lawsuits when they hire ex-offenders possessing a CQE.

After passing unanimously in the Assembly on Feb. 11 and in the Senate on Feb. 19, the bill now heads to Gov. Tony Evers’s desk for his review and signature.