|JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / February 12, 2010
The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this week's public policy update of the 2010 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 2010 Policy Agenda. For more information about the items discussed in this update, please contact Melissa Broome at 410-234-8046.
Credit Check Hearing Re-Scheduled for Thursday
43% of employers use credit history checks as a tool in their pre-employment screening, even if the information has no relation to the job. In this difficult economic climate, job-seekers are finding themselves in a terrible catch-22. They lose their jobs, fall behind on their bills, and their credit is negatively impacted. They are then denied new employment opportunities because of their credit.
HB 175 would limit employers' ability to use credit checks in making hiring decisions. The bill will be heard this Thursday, February 18, in Economic Matters.
ACT NOW: Opposition from the business community is expected
Members of the Economic Matters Committee need to hear why this bill is important to job-seekers and workers. Please call or send an e-mail before Thursday's hearing to let them know you support HB 175.
Click here for a sample e-mail that you may personalize to your liking
Read JOTF's Fact Sheet on Credit Checks
AOL News Article: MD Considers Ban on 'Bad Credit - No Job' Link
JOTF LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
|PRIORITY||SUMMARY||STATUS||HOW TO HELP|
Unemployment Insurance Modernization - Alternative Base Period
In Maryland, a worker's most recent earnings are not taken into account when determining unemployment insurance eligibility and benefits. This is especially damaging in times of recession when so many residents have been laid off, desperately need assistance and are denied solely because the state ignores recent data. By adopting the alternative base period and including workers most recent earnings, more Marylanders will qualify for benefits.
SB 107 was heard on 1/26/10 in Senate Finance. Awaiting committee vote.
HB 91 was heard on 1/28/10 in Economic Matters. Awaiting committee vote.
Read JOTF's testimony and fact sheet on unemployment insurance modernization.
Read JOTF's report: Unemployment Insurance: Rescuing Maryland Workers and Buoying Local Business
Persons on parole in Maryland are billed $40 per month for their supervision. The fee is largely uncollectible since most parolees are in dire financial situations. The imposition of the fee is out of line with Maryland's committment toward policies that protect the public by promoting successful reentry of parolees. The proposed legislation would transfer the authority to grant fee exepemtions from the Parole Commission to the Department of Parole and Probation.
Awaiting hearing date.
Read JOTF's fact sheet on parole fees.
Read the Brennan Center for Justice report: Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry
|Credit Checks - Limiting Use by Employers|
|About 43% of employers use credit history checks as a tool in their pre-employment screening, even if the information has no relation to the job. In these trying economic times, many Marylanders are experiencing financial hardship, which negatively impacts their credit. The proposed legislation would limit employers' use of credit checks in hiring. ||HB 175 hearing 2/18/10 at 1pm in Economic Matters. |
SB 312 hearing 2/25/10 at 1pm in Finance.
|Members of the Economic Matters Committee need to hear why this bill is important to job-seekers and workers. Please contact committee members before Thursday's hearing to let them know you support HB 175. Click here for a sample e-mail that you may personalize to your liking.|
Recent press on the issue.
Read JOTF's fact sheet on credit checks.
|Ban the Box |
|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 581 hearing 2/25/10 at 1pm in Finance.|
HB 749 hearing 2/23/10 at 1pm in Appropriations.
|Read JOTF's fact sheet on banning the box.|
|DLLR Budget - Workforce Development - Proposed Cuts to Youth Programs||JOTF supports the work of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation as a means to increase access to much-needed adult education, job training and unemployment services to low-income Marylanders, particularly young residents between the ages of 16 and 24. As of 2006, more than 1 in 10 young Marylanders were both out-of-school and out-of-work. Without aggressive intervention, many of these disconnected youth run the risk of falling through the cracks and relying on public safety nets to make ends meet. ||DLLR's Workforce Development budget was heard on 2/4/10 in House Appropriations.|
Cuts were proposed to the summer youth employment program and to general fund grants aimed at urban youth employment.
DLLR's Wokforce Development budget will be heard in Senate Budget and Tax on 2/15/10 at 1pm.
|Contact members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development and urge them to resist cuts to youth employment programs.|
Read JOTF's Issue Brief: A Young Workforce at Risk: Reconnecting Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Maryland
JOTF WATCH LIST
|Earned Income Credit Information Act |
|The proposed legislation would require employers to notify employees who may be eligible for Maryland's Earned Income Tax Credit. ||HB 755 hearing 2/25/10 at 1pm in Ways & Means.|
|Inmate Aftercare Plans|
|The proposed legislation would require a comprehensive aftercare plan to be developed in collaboration with community programs and government agencies that serve ex-offenders before an inmate exits the prerelease unit.||SB 183 was heard in Judicial Proceedings on 2/4/10. Awaiting committee vote. |
HB 142 was heard in Judiciary on 2/2/10. Awaiting committee vote.
Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF)
The Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF) is the insurer of last resort for about 70,000 residents who cannot get insurance elsewhere. By law, MAIF is not allowed to offer installment billing to its policyholders like other insurance companies do. 96% of MAIF’s policyholders cannot pay their premium in full (typically about $1,750) and therefore are forced to turn to premium finance companies, which charge an interest rate of 25-30%. The proposed legislation would enable MAIF to offer installment billing and therefore help policyholders avoid predatory lending practices.
Awaiting hearing date.