Randolph Bracy's SB 276 would give tax credits to businesses for hiring felons - Florida Politics

Randolph Bracy’s SB 276 would give tax credits to businesses for hiring felons

Senator Randolph Bracy, newly elected to District 11, is taking initiative in his role on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with a new bill that would give tax credits to businesses which hire felons.

The bill, SB 276, amends the Florida statute on state work opportunity tax credits to include a new section, which offers a credit to any business that hires a person convicted of a felony within three years after his or her release from prison and who is on community control or probation, according to the text.

The credit will be 40 percent of the wages paid to that employee, with a maximum of five employees claimed and $2,400 per eligible employee.

With smaller or minority business enterprise, it’s 50 percent of the wages paid to the employees, and $3,000 per eligible employee.

Bracy, who worked for years on the Criminal Justice subcommittee in the House, was recently appointed chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and has promised to be extremely aggressive in pursuing criminal justice reform in Florida.

“I know I have to work under the senate president’s direction, but my hope is we can tackle some issues aggressively that are wrong in the criminal justice system,” he told FloridaPolitics.com in December. “I hope I’m up to the challenge.”

Bracy told FloridaPolitics.com Thursday that they were considering changing the scope of the bill to award a grant, maybe of $1,500 or so, to businesses who hire felons, rather than going through the complex process of tax credits.

“It depends on the amount,” he said. “If they’re only going to get a small amount, some people might not find it worth it to go through the trouble to get a tax refund or rebate.”

But he said anything that could be done to help felons find work would be a positive in his eyes.

“It’s very difficult for them to find jobs once the felony conviction comes up,” he said. “It’s often extremely hard for them even to find a place to stay. Landlords often won’t rent to someone once they find out about the felony conviction. They have it really tough.”

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2 Comments

  1. A step in the right direction. Along with decriminalizing minor marijuana offenses we are hopeful. Minorities for Medical Marijuana’s Executive Committee wishes Senator Bracy the best of luck.

  2. Why limit the tax credit to within 3 years of release and currently on parole or probation? It’s been nearly 5 years since I have been released, I have not re-offended, I have a bachelors degree and years of solid experience, yet I am consistently discriminated against for jobs I am more than qualified to perform. This is a widespread problem with enormous consequences for our economy and for public safety. As things stand now (particularly in Florida), every felony conviction carries a life sentence of unemployment and underemployment. It’s an economic death sentence, and not only does Florida have no mechanism for sealing or expunging any charge one was adjudicated guilty of, it also does not issue certificates of rehabilitation. Gainful employment is one of the most significant factors in reducing recidivism (as numerous studies confirm). Like it or not most people sentenced to prison will one day be walking out. Do we want them to become productive tax-paying citizens, or do we want to continue to marginalize and shame them, forcing them to resort to illegal activity in order to survive? If we don’t allow people with felony convictions to earn a legal living, what other choice do they have?

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