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Michigan House passes plan to expand the state’s expungement laws

The Michigan House of Representatives. Union members protested today in a State House committee room.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Michigan House of Representatives. Union members protested today in a State House committee room.

A plan to expand thestate’s expungement lawspassed out of the state House Tuesday.

The bills would add additional crimes to what can be taken off of a person’s record. Those include most traffic offenses and some actions involving marijuana that are now legal under the state’s recreational marijuana law.

It would also allow for automatic expungement in some cases.

Democratic Representative Yousef Rabhi is a bill sponsor.

“This is about justice. This is about making sure that people in our society who have served their time, who have paid back their debt, are able to re-enter our communities as citizens just like us,” he said.

Republican Representative Beau LaFave voted against the bills. He said there are too many violent felonies on people’s records that would be up for expungement, but not the first offense for operating while intoxicated.

“I don’t think that it’s fair that felony domestic abusers are going to be able to get their records expunged, but not individuals who have committed the heinous crime of a three-month misdemeanor of driving with a .08 in their system,” he said.

The law would allow people who have no more than three total felony offenses to apply for those convictions to be set aside. The applicant could not have more than two convictions for an assaultive crime during his or her lifetime. The offense also could not have been punishable by more than 10 years.

The bills passed with bipartisan support. The legislation will now go to the state Senate.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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