There is a job that Ronald Lewis, 37, would like, but, with his criminal record, as minor as it is, he is too scared to even apply.
Classroom Daddy on school trips.
"You need a criminal background check," Lewis said.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of legislators in Harrisburg will introduce Senate and House bills that will make it easier for people such as Lewis with minor criminal records to get their records sealed.
Dubbed the Clean Slate Act, the bill will require Pennsylvania's court system to automatically seal criminal records for people with minor records who stay clean. Pennsylvanians now have to apply to have their records sealed.
Under the proposal, people with misdemeanor convictions, except for violent and sex offenses, can have their records sealed after 10 years.
Summary convictions would be sealed after five years. Charges that did not result in convictions would be sealed within 60 days and juvenile adjudications within seven years.
Police would have access to the records, but not the public.
Some three million Pennsylvanians have some kind of criminal record, said Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, a bill cosponsor.
In 2015, 35,533 petitions for expungement were filed in state courts. And 33,441 were approved, said Pennsylvania court spokesman Jim Koval.
Koval said that developing software that would automatically seal the records would pose a challenge.
Pennsylvania's legislation is considered a landmark nationally, said Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. Vallas and Sharon Dietrich, manager of employment law at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, helped develop the concept.
"Having a criminal record, even a very minor or old one can stop you . . . from moving forward in your life," Dietrich said. "It's going to make a great deal of difference."
Cosponsoring the bill in the Senate are Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila., and Wagner, who employs 550 at two waste businesses and a trucking company he owns in York County.
"It's back to fairness and giving people that have gotten in trouble 10 years ago a second chance," said Wagner, who has hired many ex-offenders and has never had a problem.
"We're faced with a skilled labor shortage in Pennsylvania," Wagner said. Some firms have policies forbidding hiring ex-offenders and miss out on qualified potential candidates, he said.
"People who have their records sealed will wind up with a chance at a better job," he said.
The state Chamber of Business and Industry is soliciting comment from members, said legislative director Alex Halper.
Halper said laws already prohibit employers from turning down applicants just because they have records, so why add more legislation?
The proposed law might help businesses if it protects them from lawsuits for negligent hiring, Halper said, but it is not clear if the law will do that.
"I'm nowhere near the same person as I was 12 years ago," said Lewis, who was sentenced to probation after being arrested for some drug charges and for shoplifting a pocketbook in 2004.
Under the proposed law, his misdemeanor offenses would be sealed.
Lewis, of Germantown, said he worked hard to get licenses for heating and air-conditioning, but his arrest record kept him from getting jobs. Finally, three years ago, a South Philadelphia firm hired him to fix high-pressure boilers.
But he still has not worked up the nerve to ask to go on school trips. "I make excuses," because, he does not want to embarrass his daughter if he is turned away.
"She's Daddy's girl," he said, "so she wants me on every trip possible."