An expungement bill that would allow South Carolina criminals to hide their criminal records from potential employers, schools and law enforcement investigators didn’t have enough votes Thursday to overturn Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto.
The bill has become the subject of intense debate among lawmakers and the public. Law enforcement officials are against it, arguing the expungement bill’s language is too general and the negative ramifications would outweigh the benefits. Others argue that the bill would allow people who had made youthful mistakes to have a fresh start in the professional world.
The offenses included in the expungement bill would be: second-degree assault and battery, DUI, breach of trust, third-degree burglary, shoplifting, certain kinds of embezzlement, simple arson, third-degree criminal sexual conduct and exploitation of a child or vulnerable adult.
However, the main debate has centered on the public’s right to know a person’s criminal history, especially when working in child care services.
According to The State, the bill’s key sponsor, Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said since it’s difficult for people with even minor criminal records to find good work, by blocking the expungement bill they would be creating a permanent underclass of people who can’t find jobs.
Still, other lawmakers believe that in a democratic society, there are certain things the public has a right to know.
The House needed a two-thirds majority to overturn the veto.