Senators Portman And Cardin Introduce Legislation to Remove Penalties From Business Owners with Criminal Records During Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Prison Fellowship®, the nation's largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement after Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced legislation that will allow small business owners with criminal records to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Senator James Lankford, R-Ohio, and Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., also cosponsored the legislation.
The Paycheck Protection Program Second Chance Act replaces current overly broad PPP restrictions with a narrowly tailored exclusion for those who are currently incarcerated or have recent financial fraud convictions. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is also given discretion to waive the latter prohibition when appropriate.
- Heather Rice-Minus
"Second chance entrepreneurs who have already paid their debt to society were intended to be included in financial relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)," said Heather Rice-Minus, VP of Government Affairs and Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship."It's unfortunate that the Treasury Department rule penalizes those with criminal records who are practicing what we preach by building a new life. We thank Senators Portman and Cardin for becoming their voice during this time of uncertainty by introducing legislation that will restore access to the Paycheck Protection Program for these hardworking American business owners and their employees. All persons bear the image of God and deserve the dignity of a second chance."
For many of the one in three Americans with a criminal record, entrepreneurship is the path to making amends, providing for their families, and earning back the trust of their neighbors. The PPP's sweeping restrictions deny critical relief to these second-chance entrepreneurships, putting at the risk the institutions they built and the jobs of their employees.
The Paycheck Protection Program Second Chance Act's correction would ensure wise oversight of federal dollars without prohibiting access to funds by valuable small businesses. By including this reform in "Phase Four" of COVID-19 relief, Congress can better position second chance entrepreneurs and their employees to navigate this pandemic and contribute to our demanding recovery ahead.
- Prior to the introduction of The Paycheck Protection Program Second Chance Act, Prison Fellowship submitted letters with Christian and conservative partners expressing support for a fix to the PPP rule.
- This reform also follows the momentum of this April's celebration of Second Chance Month, an opportunity spearheaded by Prison Fellowship for public reflection on the talents of and barriers facing the 70 million Americans with a criminal record.
- In 2020, the White House issued its third Second Chance Month proclamation, 18 states and the District of Columbia issued declarations, and over 382 churches, organizations, and businesses partnered to lift up the contributions and needs of formerly incarcerated Americans.