Last week, the U.S. House passed two bills from Democrats from New York which had the support of U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla.
On a 370-41 vote, the House passed U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s, D-NY, “Prison to Proprietorship Act” which Spano cosponsored. The bill would have Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer entrepreneurship training services to current prisoners in the federal system.
“The program would provide training on topics like starting and expanding a small business, creating a business plan, and identifying sources of capital. The program would prioritize those set to leave prison within 18 months,” Spano’s office noted.
The U.S. Senate received the bill on Monday and sent it to the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee which is chaired by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The House also passed the “Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act” from U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, on a voice vote. Spano cosponsored the bill which would create a program in which SCORE participants offer entrepreneurial development training to former prisoners including running workshops and offering mentoring, and training opportunities to help them start and run businesses. The bill does not have a counterpart over in the Senate yet.
Spano said that the bills continue to show that Congress is taking criminal justice reform seriously.
“Congress and the Trump administration made important progress on criminal justice reform in 2018 but we must build on that success,” Spano said last week. “The two bills that passed the House today will help make sure that once an individual has completed their sentence, they have the training they need to reenter society. We’ve seen how difficult it can be for individuals to find steady employment following release, and this, unfortunately, contributes to higher rates of recidivism. These bills would provide business planning assistance, mentoring, and workshops to those who are close to finishing their sentences and to those who have recently been released from prison.
“I believe giving individuals a second chance by training them in the skills they need to the start and run a small business is an excellent way to address a growing issue while also bolstering the small business community. I’m proud to have cosponsored both bills,” Spano added.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.