JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / February 25, 2011

The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this week's public policy update of the 2011 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 2011 Policy Agenda. For more information about the items discussed in this update, please contact Melissa Broome at 410-234-8046.

Ban the Box - Show your support at the House hearing on March 8! 

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear legislation at 1pm on March 8 that would remove the question from state job applications that asks applicants to check a box if they've ever been convicted of a crime.  Removing the question will allow 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. 

We need your help!  Are you available on March 8 to help us pack the hearing room with supporters of this important piece of legislation?  If you can't be in Annapolis, please consider submitting a letter of support for the bill file.  Send your letters to Melissa Broome or call 410.234.8046 for more information.  



Job Applicant Fairness Act - Credit Checks 

SB 132
HB 87


60% 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.  In addition, uncovered medical expenses and divorce are some of the leading causes of blemished credit.  The proposed legislation would limit employers' use of credit checks in hiring.

HB 87 hearing 2/8/11 at 1pm in Economic Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 132 hearing 2/10/11 at 1pm in Senate Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.


Read JOTF's fact sheet and testimony on the Job Applicant Fairness Act.

Help us grow our coalition of supporters. Click here for a sign-on letter that will enable us to list you as an official supporter of the bill. 

In the Press:
Baltimore Sun Editorial
Maryland Reporter

Daily Record
Baltimore Business Journal
Huffington Post Article


Ban the Box

SB 448
HB 920

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.  

HB 920 hearing 3/8/11 at 1pm in Appropriations. 

SB 448 hearing 2/17/11 at 1pm in Senate Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.

Show your support!  Contact Melissa Broome if you're available to submit written or oral testimony for the House Appropriations hearing on March 8. 

Read JOTF's fact sheet and testimony on banning the box.

Parole Fees

SB 362
HB 749
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 commitment toward policies that protect the public by promoting successful reentry of parolees.  The proposed legislation would ensure that parolees be adequately informed of and have access to the fee exemption process.  HB 749 hearing 3/1/11 at 1pm in Judiciary.

SB 362 hearing 3/8/11 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.
Contact Melissa Broome if you're available to submit oral or written testimony in support of the bill. 

Read JOTF's fact sheet on parole fees.

the Brennan Center for Justice Report: Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry


0.5% Transportation Training Fund

SB 796
HB 1139
States are permitted to use up to 0.5% of their federal transportation dollars for workforce training.  Maryland should take advantage of this opportunity to link 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 SB 796 hearing 2/17/11 at 1pm in Senate Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.

HB 1139 hearing 3/1/11 in Ways and Means.

Read JOTF's fact sheet.

Read JOTF's synopsis.

Driver's Licensing for Adults

SB 361
HB 1185
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 provisional license from 9 months to 45 days for new drivers over the age of 18. SB 361 hearing 3/8/11 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings. Read JOTF's fact sheet.

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

SB 882
HB 1228
The Extended Benefits program (EB) would provide 13 weeks of additional benefits to the long-term unemployed.  The federal government is funding the EB program through 2011, but in order to activate it, each state must adopt a high-unemployment indicator to trigger the program "on."  By adopting this trigger, up to 70,000 Marylanders would become eligible for $283 million in benefits.
Awaiting hearing dates. Read JOTF's fact sheet on extended benefits.


Earned Income Credit Information Act

SB 473
HB 632
The proposed legislation would require employers to notify employees who may be eligible for Maryland's Earned Income Tax Credit.  SB 473 hearing 3/9/11 at 1pm in Budget and Taxation.

HB 632 hearing 3/10/11 at 1pm in Ways and Means.

Maryland Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act

SB 643
HB 902

The Maryland HOME Act of 2011 would prohibit landlords from discriminating against rental applicants based solely on the applicant's source of lawful income.  "Source of income" means any lawful source of funds to be used in the rental of housing such as housing choice vouchers, veterans affairs supportive housing vouchers, or any other form of public assistance.

SB 643 hearing 3/2/11 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.

HB 902 hearing 3/3/11 at 1pm in Environmental Matters.

Inmate Aftercare Plans

SB 242
The proposed legislattion 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. Bill withdrawn by sponsor.
Frederick County - Adult Detention Center - Fees

SB 263
HB 149
The proposed legislation would increase medical and dental fees, and establish a processing fee, incarceration fee, and general educational development adminstrative fee for individuals incarcerated in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. HB 149 received an unfavorable report from the Judiciary Committee.

SB 263 hearing 2/17/11 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.  Awaiting committee vote.
Criminal Justice Information System - Prohibited Dissemination

HB 458
The proposed legislation would prohibit nonviolent offenses that occurred more than ten years ago from being disseminated in a criminal history record.  Hearing 2/22/11 at 1pm in Judiciary. Awaiting committee vote.
Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund - Prohibited Dissemination

SB 394
The Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF) is the insurer of last resort for about 100.000 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. Hearing 2/22/11 at 1pm in Finance.  Awaiting committee vote.
Employment Discrimination - Criminal Convictions

HB 907
The proposed legislation would prohibit employers from being able to refuse to hire, discharge or otherwise discriminate against an individual because of information indicating that the individual has been convicted of a criminal offense that is not directly related to employment. Hearing 3/9/11 at 1pm in Health and Government Operations.

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