House leaders plan Thursday to raise and narrow the scope of the “clean slate” bill passed last week by the Senate. The expected changes will exclude records of more crimes from automatic expungement by the bill.
House Speaker Matt Ritter told reporters that lawmakers plan to amend the proposal to add around a dozen class D felonies to a list of crimes that would make offenders ineligible to have their records erased under the bill. He said the changes reflect “pretty overwhelming” feedback from an emotional closed-door meeting Monday, during which some House Democrats made it clear they wanted to see changes to the bill.
“That was an emotional caucus and a lot of different viewpoints on that but, again, the overall intent and the main goal and thrust of the bill will be intact,” Ritter said.
The additional offenses include assaults on an elderly person or pregnant woman or a person with intellectual disabilities. Other soon-to-be excluded crimes are related to sexual assaults involving minors and crimes committed with firearms. Ritter said members had concerns about people convicted of gun charges being later eligible for a gun permit after the record was expunged.
As passed by the Senate, the bill automatically erases records of some convictions after a period of time. The bill would expunge records of all misdemeanor crimes seven years after the most recent conviction. It would erase records of D and E class felonies, as well as some unclassified felonies, after 10 years. The bill already excludes family violence crimes and sexual offenses that require sex offender registration.
The unexpected late-session change by the House looks likely to result in an unusual legislative tactic. Rather than amend the bill and send it back to the Senate for reconsideration, House leaders are waiting until the Senate passes the changes requested by their caucus before raising the proposal.
Sen. Gary Winfield, a New Haven Democrat who is co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was unhappy Wednesday with needing to change the legislation he has fought for. Winfield steered the Senate through a several-hour debate last week and fended off five amendments raised by Republicans to limit its scope.
“Obviously we didn’t want the bill to come back to the Senate again. That’s not optimal and at this point, I don’t think anybody wants that, Democrat or Republican, to be honest with you,” he said.
Winfield said he expected the Senate would pass the changes sought by the House as an amendment to a separate bill involving police policies Wednesday.