Scott signs bills on expunging criminal records, post-employment state benefits

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

A trio of bills was signed into law by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday.

The Republican governor inked bills pertaining to diversion and expungement for juvenile offenses, creating a trust fund for post-state employment benefits, and providing individual and small group insurance markets for individuals and small businesses operating in Vermont.

While signing House Bill 28, the governor said he felt the state was “missing an opportunity for expungement reform.”

Gov. Phil Scott Facebook

Gov. Phil Scott

“I support second chances and allowing people to move on with jobs, housing, and education,” Scott said in a statement. “However, I continue to advocate for a better approach – which is to seal criminal records in many instances instead of destroying records. This would accomplish our shared goal of giving individuals second chances, while also allowing law enforcement, courts, public defenders and others to access these records when needed to protect the community and serve the ends of justice, like when individuals are purchasing firearms.”

Under the new law, the court will be able to consider expunging adult and juvenile criminal cases that have been referred to diversion programs without a prosecutor dismissing the cases beforehand.

In addition, the expungement would be performed providing that payments for any restitution connect to the case in question be paid in full. The bill would allow expungement to take place one month following the two-year anniversary of the completion of juvenile diversion.

A phone message with the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont seeking comment was not returned on Tuesday.

Among the records eligible to be expunged, according to the bill, includes court files and records, law enforcement records aside from juvenile court diversion programs’ centralized filing system, fingerprints, and photograph pertaining to proceedings.

The records, according to the bill, would be expunged provided two years following a successful completion of a diversion program, the participant has not been convicted or additional felonies in that time or have proceedings pending seeking conviction, and rehabilitation has been completed to the court’s satisfaction, and all restitution has been paid.

House Bill 466 will create a post-employment benefits trust fund for state employees, which would work to accumulate and provide reserve funds directly for the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System.

However, the benefits would exclude pensions and benefits appropriated by state laws and for paying reasonable and proper expenses of administering the program.

Under Senate Bill 54, individual and small group insurance markets in the Vermont Health Connect plan will be separated through 2025.

The new law will offer separate health benefit plans for individuals and families participating in the individual market and for small businesses in the small group market.

Images courtesy of Office of the Governor and Gov. Phil Scott Facebook