Nebraska bill incentivizes companies to hire convicted felons

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A bill introduced in the unicameral Nebraska would encourage employers to hire people with felony convictions with an income tax credit.

The bill was introduced Thursday by Sen. Justin Wayne, who represents North Omaha. It was the third time he was introduced.

Across the state, there are already employers who deliberately hire convicts, including Big Mama’s cooking and catering.

“Since we opened our doors, my mother always thought her restaurant would be a place to give people a second chance and a first chance,” says Gladys Harrison, the restaurant’s owner. “We hired criminals from the start, some of them were our own family members and that’s why it was important to her.”

Harrison took over the business after her mother, Big Mama, passed away in 2018.

“We had people in our family who had gotten into trouble over the years who were able to find jobs, stand up and become productive citizens and she wanted her restaurant to be a place where people could get a second chance. or a first. luck.”

Companies like his could soon benefit from hiring people with a track record, thanks to Wayne’s bill, LB917.

The bill provides an income tax credit to employers who hire people with felony convictions. The reduction is applicable for the person’s first year of employment, or until they earn $20,000.

“There are so many people coming out of incarceration who just need this opportunity, this chance, so something like this tax credit will make employees say ‘well, okay, I’m going to take this luck,” and it gives people coming out of incarceration that opportunity to say, “I can prove to you that I’m a good job,” says Jasmine Harris, who works with RISE Academy.

RISE is a non-profit organization that focuses on the rehabilitation of formerly incarcerated people.

“We run a program in seven of the 10 correctional facilities in the state, and it’s focused on job readiness, character development, and entrepreneurship,” she says. “We start working with individuals about a year before their release, working on things like housing, employment, transportation and really preparing them for whether they’re going to see the parole board or be on statutory release. , so they have a plan in place for this comeback.

Harris says she supported this bill the last time it was introduced, several years ago. She applauds Wayne’s willingness to overtake him.

“I’m always happy when he brings back bills that weren’t accepted on the first try when they would improve people’s quality of life, especially in the economic field.”

Although the bill offers an incentive, Harris says it digs into who people are as employers.

“We’re saying ‘go pay your debt to society’ and people are coming out of incarceration, and they don’t have the path to become now what you would consider a contributing citizen to the community, so they need of those jobs, they need housing, they need opportunities,” she says. “So I would say yes, it’s an incentive, but let’s do the right thing and hire people.”

Both Harris and Harrison say this bill could help change the lives of those re-entering society and striving to become a productive member of the community.

“It gives them the chance to get a job that means something, that has a decent salary that they can actually pay their bills with, so I think that’s on the right track,” Harris said.

“It is good to know that this is being debated and that our senators understand that we need to incentivize companies to hire people who have a record, maybe this will open up more opportunities and possibilities for people who have a record,” Harrison says. “When people go out, they need to be given the opportunity to take their lives back, and you need to have a job, you know you need to work and it needs to be a job that you know where you can earn a living wage to take care of. from yourself.”

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