JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / January 13, 2012

The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this first 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.

Save the Date! Reentry/Homelessness Lobby Day ~ March 1, 2012

  Join us on March 1 as we urge legislators to provide increased services   
  to individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are adversely
  affected by the consequences of a criminal record.  This daylong event
  will feature a march to the capitol, rally on Lawyers' Mall, visits with
  legislators, informative workshops and more.  Lunch will be provided for 
  those who RSVP.

Transportation will be available for those traveling between Baltimore and Annapolis.  Buses will depart Health Care for the Homeless at 7:30am and return by 3pm. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact Caryn York at 443-692-9424.



Criminal Record Shielding - Nonviolent Convictions

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 Governor's Task Force on Prisoner Reentry.     

Awaiting bill introduction. 

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

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.  

Awaiting bill introduction.

Read JOTF's fact sheet on banning the box.

Driver's Licensing for Adults 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 25. Awaiting bill introduction. 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 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 12 or more consecutive months of imprisonment.  Awaiting bill introduction. Do you know someone with child support arrears that accrued during incarceration?  If so, please contact Melissa Broome at (410) 234-8046.
Adult Education - Diminution Credit Bonus 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. Awaiting bill introduction. 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 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. Awaiting bill introduction. Read JOTF's synopsis.



Maryland Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act

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. 

Awaiting bill introduction.



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