JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / March 23, 2012

The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this week's public policy update of the 2012 state legislative session. These weekly updates provide information on legislation, budgets, and other state policy activities that impact working families in Maryland.

Click here to view JOTF’s 2012 Policy Agenda. For more information about the items discussed in this update, please contact Melissa Broome at 410-234-8046.

Alert
REENTRY LEGISLATION IN NEED OF HELP RIGHT NOW! 
Click to send an e-mail!  Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to vote on important child support legislation!

Please take a moment right now to send an e-mail urging members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee to support legislation that would suspend child support orders for incarcerated obligors.  Click here for an e-mail template that you can personalize to your liking

Preventing the accumulation of uncollectible arrears increases the likelihood that those returning to society after incarceration will find a good job and pay to support their children. 


Click here to read JOTF's fact sheet on SB 720.  For more information, contact Melissa Broome at 410-234-8046.

JOTF LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

PRIORITY SUMMARY STATUS HOW TO HELP

Criminal Record Shielding - Nonviolent Convictions

HB 652
SB 667

 

Jobs are the key to our economic recovery, and the ability to secure a job is crucial to the successful reentry of those returning to society from prison.  Research shows that recidivism risks are highest in the first 3-5 years following incarceration.  Given that recidivism declines steadily over time, the proposed legislation would make nonviolent felony convictions eligible for shielding after a 5-year waiting period, and nonviolent misdemeanors after a 3-year period.  Law enforcement will continue to have access to the shielded records.  This legislation is supported by the Task Force on Prisoner Reentry.     

HB 652 failed after being withdrawn from the House Judiciary Committee. 

SB 667 failed after receiving an unfavorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. 

 

Read JOTF's fact sheet on shielding.

Do you know someone whose criminal record has prevented them from securing employment?  If so, please contact Melissa Broome at (410) 234-8046.

Ban the Box

HB 800
SB 671

 

The State of Maryland should encourage all qualified applicants, including those with a prior criminal conviction history, to apply for State employment.  The proposed legislation would remove the question from state job applications that asks applicants to check a box if they have ever been convicted a crime.  Removing the question from the application simply allows applicants to get a foot in the door and prove their qualifications rather than be automatically dismissed because of a box they checked at the beginning of the process.  

SB 671 passed the Senate Finance Committee with a 9-2 vote.  Unfortunately, the bill was sent back to committee before it could proceed on the Senate floor due to the fact that its cross file was killed in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 800 received an unfavorable report from Appropriations. 

 

Read JOTF's fact sheet on banning the box.

Driver's Licensing for Adults

HB 292
SB 506
Maryland is the only state in the nation that requires drivers of all ages to complete the same driver's education and practice requirements.  Most significantly, all new drivers must complete 60 hours of supervised practice, in addition to 36 hours of driver's education, before being eligible for a license.  These requirements have created a barrier to mobility and employment for low-income adults.  The proposed legislation would eliminate the 60-hour rule and reduce the time for holding a learner's permit from 9 months to 45 days for new drivers over the age of 25. HB 292 passed the House unanimously.  A committee amendment that adds 19 practice hours was adopted.  The bill now awaits a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

SB 506 passed the Senate unanimously without amendments and has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Matters Committee at 1pm on 3/27/12.    
Read JOTF's fact sheet on driver's licensing.

Read JOTF's report: The 60-Hour Practice Driving Law: Unintended Consequences for Maryland's Economy

 

Child Support - Incarcerated Obligors

HB 651
SB 720

 
Current policy allows for inmates to apply for a suspension of their child support order upon incarceration, however, most obligors are unaware of this option and consequently accrue large sums of arrears during their sentence.  The proposed legislation would establish the suspension of child support orders upon incarceration for obligors sentenced to 18 or more consecutive months of imprisonment.  HB 651 passed the House with a 78-61 vote and now awaits a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. 

SB 720 was heard on 3/6/12 in Judicial Proceedings.  Awaiting committee vote.
Contact members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and urge them to support SB 720. 

Read JOTF's fact sheet on child support.

 
Adult Education - Diminution Credit Bonus

HB 650
 
Behind-the-fence adult education programs are currently at capacity.  Maryland's mandatory education law requires inmates serving 18+ month sentences who do not have a diploma to attend classes, but many never complete the program.  In order to encourage inmates to work more efficiently, the proposed legislation would establish a 60 day diminution credit bonus to be awarded to those who earn their GED or achieve a degree. HB 650 passed the House with a 81-54 vote has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1pm on 3/28/12.  Contact members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and urge them to support HB 650.

Read JOTF's fact sheet on diminution credits.

Do you know someone who achieved their GED while incarcerated?  If so, please contact Melissa Broome at (410) 234-8046.
0.5% Transportation Training Fund

HB 457
SB 884
States are permitted to use up to 0.5% of their federal transportation dollars for workforce training.  Maryland should take advantage of this opportunity and codify the linkage of workforce and economic development.  Providing training and linking graduates to jobs on major infrastructure projects would strengthen Maryland's commitment to a healthy workforce by creating pathways to employment for disadvantaged, underemployed Marylanders. HB 457 passed the House with a 127-13 vote and has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee at 1pm on 3/27/12.

SB 884 received a favorable with amendments report from Finance and will soon move to the Senate floor.
Read JOTF's synopsis.
 

JOTF WATCH LIST

PRIORITY SUMMARY STATUS

Maryland Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act

HB 168

SB 277

The Maryland HOME Act of 2012 would prohibit landlords from discriminating against persons seeking rental assistance based on their source of income.  "Source of income" means any lawful source of funds to be used in the rental of housing such as any public assistance or rental subsidies. 

SB 277 failed after being withdrawn from Judicial Proceedings. 

HB 168 failed after being withdrawn from Environmental Matters.

Unemployment Insurance - Coverage - Victims of Domestic Violence

HB 769
SB 291
This legislation would provide unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who voluntarily leave employment because they or their immediate family member is a victim of domestic violence.
 
HB 769 received a favorable with amendments report from Economic Matters and now awaits third reader for final passage on the House floor.

SB 291 as amended passed the Senate unanimously and now awaits a hearing before the House Economic Matters Committee.   
Criminal Procedure - Retention of Right to Expungement

SB 494
HB 1292
Maryland law currently prohibits an individual from expunging any charge contained within a unit of charges, even acquittals and other non-convictions, if the unit includes one charge that is not eligible for expungement.  This bill seeks to permit an individual to expunge any charges within a unit that would otherwise be eligible for expungement. SB 494 was heard on 3/1/12 in Judicial Proceedings.  Awaiting committee vote.

HB 1292 as amended passed the House with a 95-43 vote and now awaits a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. 
Income Tax - Refundable Earned Income Credit

HB 331
SB 943
In an effort to mitigate the potential regressive impact of revenue increases, the proposed legislation would expand the Maryland Earned Income Credit from 25% to 30% of the Federal EIC. SB 943 was heard on 3/7/12 in Budget and Tax.  Though the committee has not voted on SB 943, the Senate has included a 5% increase over five years of the refundable EIC in the Senate's BRFA / revenue package. 

HB 331 was heard on 2/14/12 in Ways and Means.  Awaiting committee vote.
General Assembly - Fiscal Notes - Criminal Justice Policy Impact Statement

HB 709
SB 679
The proposed legislation would require the fiscal notes of bills relating to criminal offenses or sentencing to include a criminal justice policy impact statement, which should contain an estimate of the number of criminal cases that would be affected by the bill, an estimate of the fiscal impact of imprisoning individuals in accordance with the provisions of the bill, the potential impact of the bill on racial and ethnic groups, etc.  SB 679 received an unfavorable report from Senate Rules. 

HB 709 was heard on 3/12/12 in House Rules.  Awaiting committee vote.




 
Ex-Offender Business Development Program Study

SB 535
HB 1012
The proposed legislation would require DBED, DLLR, and the Division of Parole and Probation in DPSCS to jointly study the feasibility of establishing a business development program for ex-offenders that invests in businesses run by ex-offenders and provides business training for ex-offenders. SB 535 passed the Senate unanimously and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee at 1pm on 3/27/12.

HB 1012 was heard on 3/1/12 in Judiciary.  Awaiting committee vote. 
Criminal Procedure - Notice of Eligibility for Expungement

HB 624
The proposed legislation would require the court in certain criminal cases to provide defendants with a brochure containing detailed information about expungement options in Maryland. HB 624 passed the House with a 125-14 vote and has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1pm on 3/29/12.
Board of Public Works - Procurement Contracts - Economic Inclusion Plans

HB 523
The proposed legislation would require BPW to approve an economic inclusion plan for state procurement contracts of $25 million or more.  The plan must promote the training and employment of local residents, and must provide them with job-readiness skills, industry-specific customized training, career coaching, job placement, and job retention services. HB 523 was heard on 2/16/12 in Health and Government Operations.  Awaiting committee vote.
Maryland Workforce and Career Pathways Act of 2012

HB 869
SB 978
The proposed legislation would establish a Career Pathways Program within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  The Program would be tasked with creating innovative bridge programs at community colleges and establishing a simple process for enabling low-income participants to acquire effective academic and employment training.  HB 869 was heard on 3/7/12 in Economic Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 978 was heard on 3/22/12 in Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.




 
Parent-Teacher Meetings - Unpaid Leave 

HB 567
SB 329
The proposed legislation would require that all Maryland employers allow employees to take up to two instances of unpaid leave, each up to four hours in duration, to attend a parent-teacher conference or meeting each semester.
 
HB 567 was heard on 3/21/12 in Economic Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 329 was heard on 2/23/12 in Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.
Job Creation Tax Credit 

HB 1107
SB 477
The proposed legislation seeks to increase the job creation tax credit so that qualified employers may claim up to $7,500 per qualified employee. HB 1107 was heard on 3/9/12 in Ways and Means.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 477 was heard on 3/7/12 in Budget and Tax.  Awaiting committee vote.
Unemployment Insurance - Exemption - Temporary Tax Preparers

HB 1174
JOTF opposes this legislation, which would prohibit a certain sector of the workforce from receiving unemployment insurance benefits if they lose their job through no fault of their own.
 
HB 1174 was withdrawn.
 

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