Former drug dealer Micah Khan, 33, of Camden, went to Trenton on Monday to make another kind of sale. A single father who struggled to get a job when he got out of prison in 2007, Khan wanted to sell New Jersey lawmakers on the importance of proposed legislation that would help people with a background like his find work. “This is a lifesaving bill because it brings hope,” he said at a Senate Labor Committee hearing, squeezed in before the end-of-the-session budget sprint toward recess began in earnest Monday afternoon.
Titled “the Opportunity to Compete Act,” the proposed law would prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until there was a conditional employment offer on the table. “People are not going to be hanging on street corners. They aren’t going to be shooting each other if they are working 9 to 5,” said Khan, who heads the Nehemiah Group, a prison reentry and renewal ministry in Camden. Khan called himself a realist and said he knows criminal-history questions are going to come up, “but don’t disqualify me before you get me in the room.”