JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / February 19, 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.

Senate Credit Check Hearing this Thursday, 2/25/10
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. 

SB 312 / HB 175 would limit employers' ability to use credit checks in making hiring decisions.  The bill will be heard this Thursday, February 25, in Senate Finance.  Please contact Melissa Broome if you know someone who has been harmed by this practice. 


HB 175 was heard this week in Economic Matters.  Please contact committee members to urge their support of the bill.  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



Unemployment Insurance Modernization -  Alternative Base Period

SB 107
HB 91

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

Parole Fees

SB 499
HB 1222

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.   

SB 499 hearing 3/2/10 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.

HB 1222 hearing 3/16/10 at 1pm in Judiciary.

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

SB 312
HB 175

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 was heard on 2/18/10 in Economic Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 312 hearing 2/25/10 at 1pm in Finance.
Contact members of the Economic Matters Committee to urge their support of 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

SB 581
HB 749

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  Appropriations and on 2/15/10 in Budget and Tax.

Cuts were proposed to the summer youth employment program and to general fund grants aimed at urban youth employment.

Contact members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development and the Budget and Tax Subcommittee on Public Safety, Transportation and Environment 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



Earned Income Credit Information Act

HB 755
SB 638

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.

SB 638 hearing 3/10/10 at 1pm in Budget and Tax.

Inmate Aftercare Plans

SB 183
HB 142
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 received an unfavorable report from Judiciary.

Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF) 

SB 401
HB 317

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.

HB 317 hearing 3/16/10 at 1pm in Economic Matters.

SB 401 awaiting hearing date.



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