Rep. Vincent Pierre withdrew his HB122 from consideration in the House Education Committee on Wednesday before a vote could be taken on the bill. The bill would prohibit state colleges and universities from asking about the criminal history of applicants on initial application forms.
In a Thursday morning telephone interview with The Independent, Pierre says questions arose about the impact of the bill on admission to schools that train healthcare professionals.
"We're going to go back and meet with LSU which is where most of the questions seem to come from," Pierre says. "I think we can change the language to make the medical schools more comfortable with what we're trying to accomplish." Pierre adds that some of the concerns expressed about the bill in committee were related to professional standards set by licensing boards.
Pierre says the bill is not officially part of the Justice Reinvestment Task Force agenda but supporters of the agenda have been including it in their communications updating those working for passage of the criminal justice reforms.
"It actually is the result of a discussion that took place in a task force meeting on barriers to re-entry into the community," Pierre says. "Rep. Ted James and I started talking about it and we ended up co-authoring this bill."
"What we're going is trying to get the colleges and university to consider people who might have a criminal history for admission," Pierre explains. "It's an attempt to ban the box from college admissions forms as we did with applications for government jobs."
Pierre says HB122 would only prohibit questions about criminal history on initial applications. "Those questions could be used once an applicant advances in the admission process," Pierre explains. "It's about helping people get an education so they can create new lives for themselves."
Pierre says he will speak to House Education Committee Chair Rep. Nancy Landry about getting the bill back before the committee next Tuesday. The Independent reached out Rep. Landry for comment on the bill. She had not responded by the time the story was published.