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Debt-related driver’s license suspensions hurt Ohio businesses

Debt-related driver’s license suspensions hurt Ohio businesses


“Amid our ongoing labor shortage, it is more important than ever that our Legislature takes action and enables employers to tap into this skilled, hardworking and dedicated talent pool,” said Phil Petrilli.

Hot Chicken Takeover CEO Phil Petrilli is a restaurant industry leader with more than 30 years of experience growing national and small fast-casual brands.

Ohio companies continue to face challenges recruiting and retaining top talent.

Companies like Intel, Honda and LG Energy are making significant investments in the state but face recruitment challenges. There are only 62 available workers for every 100 jobs.

As Governor Mike DeWine has noted in his efforts to address the talent gap, “Ohio is creating more jobs than we can fill.”

As business leaders, we have a responsibility to look for innovative, scalable solutions to help solve this problem. Enter Fair Chance Recruiting.

At Hot Chicken Takeover, we have seen firsthand the benefits that come from welcoming individuals – including those who have previously been incarcerated – who might otherwise remain marginalized. This is especially critical for individuals with a criminal record. There are more than 40,000 collateral consequences of an old record, creating serious barriers to employment and meaningful returns.

Companies also see significant benefits in hiring from this talent pool.

Employers who hire equity workers report that their quality of work and contributions are comparable to or better than those of other employees, and their turnover rates are significantly lower.

Data shows that fair opportunity employee turnover is lower than other employees, saving companies and their HR departments valuable time and money. Fair Chance hiring can also create a snowball effect; 73% of employees say they would prefer to work for a company with fair hiring practices.

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While there are significant steps forward that companies can take on their own, employers must also advocate to remove the barriers this population faces – barriers such as driver’s license suspensions related to debt.

Senate Bill 37 is a common-sense solution that would ensure hardworking Ohioans can continue to contribute to the economy and their communities.

More than 80% of Ohioans drive to work.

A valid driver’s license is an essential part of participating in the economy. Yet we consistently force drivers off the road – and out of the job market – for reasons that have nothing to do with driving. In Ohio, the inability to pay a debt can lead to a license suspension, causing people to lose their jobs.

This in turn senselessly reduces the ability to pay and often leads to higher debt due to continually accruing interest and penalties. Drivers in Ohio face more than three million debt-related suspensions annually, amounting to more than $900 million in debt annually.

That debt is disproportionately borne by Ohioans with the lowest ability to pay, especially people of color.

Debt-related suspensions cost residents of Ohio’s highest-poverty zip codes an average of $7.9 million per year, and those with the highest percentage of people of color an average of $12 million per year.

Conversely, restoring these licenses will benefit everyone. One study found that reinstating just 7,000 licenses led to an estimated GDP increase of $249.6 million.

Debt-related suspensions impact fair opportunities for employees.

They also pose a barrier to future employers with fair opportunities. Even companies that want to tap into the justice-influenced talent pool and provide meaningful second chances to returning citizens can’t do so if those potential hires have a suspended driver’s license and can’t get started.

Amid our ongoing labor shortage, it is more important than ever that our legislature takes action and enables employers to tap into this skilled, hardworking and dedicated talent pool.

The benefits extend beyond just the economics. Maintaining paid work is the most important factor in preventing recidivism. By keeping drivers on the road – and keeping their jobs – and hiring people with criminal records, we can make Ohio a safer place to live and work.

If Ohio wants to solve its workforce shortage, improve community safety, and put justice-affected Ohioans back to work, the state must achieve equity in transportation and commuting.

Senate Bill 37 is a common-sense solution that would ensure hardworking Ohioans can continue to contribute to the economy and their communities. I urge the legislature to pass this bill.

Hot Chicken Takeover CEO Phil Petrilli is a restaurant industry leader with more than 30 years of experience growing national and small fast-casual brands.