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Bukowsky: Free to Offer a Second Chance


Proposed Legislation Repeals Bans on Felons Selling Lotto Tickets, Alcohol

Felons are forbidden from selling lottery tickets in Missouri – by both statute and regulation. And felons are prohibited from participating in the sale of alcohol by Missouri’s regulations, too. Thus, employers at gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, grocery stores and more often do not have the freedom to give a felon a chance. Yet.

But soon the people who sign the paychecks may be free from that red tape. Pending legislation would get rid of the bans on felons selling lottery tickets and alcohol in Missouri. It has bipartisan support from members of both the House and Senate.

Senators Caleb Rowden and Kiki Curls are carrying the legislation (SB900) in the Senate.

Representative Cheri Toalson Reisch (R, Hallsville) filed an identical bill in the House (HB2123). It is co-sponsored by Representatives Sara Walsh (R, Ashland); Chuck Bayse (R, Rocheport); Shamed Dogan (R, Ballwin); Bruce Franks, Jr. (D, St. Louis); and Robert Cornejo (R, St. Peters).

Right now, the job opportunities for felons in Missouri are generally limited to construction and fast food. This legislation would immediately and materially expand the job openings for which these individuals may apply. It will also boost the applicant pool and give employers more freedom to choose the best person to hire. Finally, it would end the ban on business-owning felons from becoming licensed to sell lotto tickets.

If the proposed legislation passes, there will be more employer freedom and more opportunities for everyone in Missouri.

Expunging the Need for Expungements 

This legislation further confronts an important question at issue when the expungement bill was first introduced a few years ago:

When should a criminal defendant’s punishment end? 

Is prolonging it worth the cost to be borne by taxpayers? 

A person is punished long after the sentence is completed because of collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions that limit or prohibit people with criminal records from accessing employment, occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, serving on juries, holding elected office, and other opportunities. According to the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction there are 2,102 different sections of laws/regulations that impose collateral consequences upon those with applicable criminal records in Missouri. Of those, 906 are scattered throughout the State of Missouri’s statutes and regulations in separate sections. This doesn’t include the innumerable sections of ordinances/codes imposed by local governments in Missouri.

These collateral consequences have accrued over time in a haphazard manner. While some of them make sense, many of them do way more harm than good. The idea of assessing them is a daunting one. We should start with getting rid of the bans on felons selling lottery tickets and alcohol because that is what’ll give us the biggest bang for our buck.

MO Freedom + MO Opportunity = MO $$. 

This bill would cost $0 to pass now and would have a big net benefit — both from increased tax revenues and decreased spending on social services — incarceration and more. Getting rid of these unnecessary bans on felons selling lottery tickets and alcohol will help real people in Missouri right away.  Please pass this legislation, #MOLeg.

If you agree, please tweet/tag/email/call your legislators and tell them you support SB900 and HB2123.