JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / April 9, 2010
The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this final 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.
Legislative Session to End Monday at Midnight
A legislative wrap-up with the final outcomes of the bills tracked by JOTF during the 2010 session will be sent early next week .
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 passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House with a 101-33 vote.
Governor O'Malley signed Unemployment Insurance Modernization into law on March 25, 2010.
Read JOTF's press release on the UI compromise.
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 exemptions from the Parole Commission to the Department of Parole and Probation.
SB 499 passed the Senate unanimously with amendments and now awaits a vote from the full House.
HB 1222 passed the House with amendments with a 128-12 vote and now awaits a vote from the full Senate.
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. ||SB 312 received an unfavorable report from Finance. |
HB 175 received an unfavorable report from Economic Matters.
|C-SPAN's Washington Journal hosted a live show on this legislation on March 27, 2010.|
WYPR's Midday with Dan Rodricks featured this legislation on March 24, 2010.
Baltimore Sun Coverage: Md. Senate panel rejects bill to limit employers' use of credit checks
Baltimore Sun: Bad credit is blocking people getting jobs
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. ||HB 749 received an unfavorable report from Appropriations. |
SB 581 was heard 2/25/10 in Finance.
|Read JOTF's fact sheet on banning the box.|
Watch a brief PastForward video that highlights the issue.
|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.
|The House version of the budget eliminates $355,110 from grants aimed at urban youth employment. |
The Senate version of the budget reduces funding for the summer youth employment program by $60,000 and funding for grants aimed at urban youth employment by $177,555.
The two chambers will soon go to conference to reconcile their differences in the budget bill.
Read JOTF's Issue Brief: A Young Workforce at Risk: Reconnecting Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Maryland
JOTF WATCH LIST
|Vehicle Insurance - Minimum Amounts|
|The proposed legislation would increase the amount of insurance that vehicle owners must carry. The result will be higher premiums for 200,000 Marylanders - many of whom are low-income individuals - who currently carry the minimum liability insurance required by law. For Maryland's low-wage workforce, the ability to drive is critical. This legislation will put auto insurance out of reach for those who, especially in this difficult economy, are already struggling to make ends meet.||HB 825 passed the House with a 97-36 vote and the Senate with a 27-20 vote. The bill now awaits the Governor's signature.|
Md. Senate OKs higher insurance minimums, 4/8/10
Minimum liability insurance bill gains 2nd Senate committee OK, 4/6/10
Trial lawyers, insurers spar over liability coverage, 4/1/10
Warning: Insurance rate increase ahead, 3/22/10
|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 passed the House with a 87-51 vote but received an unfavorable report from Senate Budget and Tax. |
SB 638 was heard 3/10/10 in Budget and Tax.
|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 received an unfavorable report from Judicial Proceedings. |
HB 142 received an unfavorable report from Judiciary.
|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. ||SB 401 received an unfavorable report from Finance.|
HB 317 was heard 3/16/10 in Economic Matters.
|Public Investment Protection Act |
|The Public Investment Protection Act would require certain employers receiving State subsidies to pay certain specified wages to employees, participate in apprenticeship programs, enter into specified labor agreements, and would require the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to publish certain wage rates at certain times, etc. ||SB 785 was heard 3/25/10 in Finance. Awaiting committee vote.|
HB 1317 was heard 3/18/10 in Economic Matters. Awaiting committee vote.
Service-Linked Housing Program - Proposed Elimination
The Service-Linked Housing Program (SLHP) helps low-income Marylanders at risk of homelessness remain in permanent housing by connecting them to critical community services. The FY 2011 budget before the General Assembly eliminates all funding for this program.
Both the House and Senate versions of the budget now include funding for the SLHP.
SLHP Fact Sheet