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Proposal would allow businesses to fire employees with felony convictions


MADISON (WSAU) A state lawmaker wants to make it okay for Wisconsin businesses to fire anyone who's done time in prison for a felony, or not hire them in the first place. Similar bills have been introduced for the last 15 years, and they've never come close to being passed. But Linda Ketcham of Madison's Urban Ministry fears that the Capitol's Republican majority will approve it this time, claiming it would help businesses create jobs and thrive in a tough economy.

Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc says that's exactly why he's sponsoring the measure. He says employers need to be assured that if a felon doesn't work out, a company won't lose millions-of-dollars in letting that person go. But Ketcham says the bill goes against the state's current efforts to prepare inmates for jobs when they leave prison.

Also the Kleefisch bill requires ex-offenders to get pardons from the governor to assure they won't be denied work. But Ketcham says that provision literally "denies forgiveness," because only about 20 pardons are normally granted each year.