JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / April 8, 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.

Session 2011 Ends Monday at Midnight!
Join Us for a Legislative Wrap-Up on April 21  

2011 Legislative Wrap-Up
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Miller Senate Office Building
11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD

Free lunch provided with limited spaces available.

RSVP required to Robin McKinney at by April 18.

Click here to view event agenda.



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 passed the House  with a 92-46 voteSB 132 passed the Senate with a 32-14 vote.  The bill will now move to the Governor's desk.  

This legislation has passed the House and Senate.  See below for local and national media coverage.    
Read JOTF's fact sheet and testimony on the Job Applicant Fairness Act.  View the list of 58 organizations supporting the bill. 

In the Press:
Daily Record 4/6/11
BBJ 4/6/11

Fox News National TV
Baltimore Sun 3/26/11
Baltimore Sun 3/20/11
Daily Record 3/10/11
Baltimore Sun Editorial
Maryland Reporter

Daily Record
Baltimore Business Journal
Huffington Post


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.  

SB 448 received an unfavorable report from the Senate Finance Committee. 

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

This legislation has failed for the 2011 session.

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 passed the House with a 119-20 vote. SB 362 passed the Senate with amendments with a 37-10 vote

The bill will now go to conference committee to recnocile differences between the House and Senate version.
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 HB 1139 passed the House with a 132-5 vote but failed after receiving an unfavorable report from the Senate Finance Committee.  

SB 796 received an unfavorable report from the Senate Finance Committee. 
Despite nearly unanimous support in the House, this legislation has failed for the 2011 session.

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 passed the Senate unanimously with amendments but received an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee. 

HB 1185 received an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee. 

JOTF expects this legislation to return in 2012.   
Despite passing the Senate unanimously, this legislation has failed for the 2011 session.

In the press: 
Baltimore Sun Article

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.
SB 882 received a favorable with amendments report from Finance and will be up today for a final vote before the full Senate.

HB 1228 received a favorable with amendments report from Economic Matters and will be up today for a final vote before the full House.
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.  HB 632 passed the House with a 91-45 vote and was heard before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on 3/29/11.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 473 heard 3/10/11 in Budget and Taxation.  Awaiting commtitee vote. 

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.

This legislation has failed for the 2011 session.  HB 902 received an unfavorable report from the Environmental Matters Committee. 

SB 643 heard 3/2/11 in Judicial Proceedings.


Unemployment Insurance - Messenger Service Exemption

SB 685
HB 589
The proposed legislattion would prohibit a certain sector of the workforce from receiving unemployment insurance benefits if they lose their job through no fault of their own.
SB 685 passed the Senate unanimously with amendments and is now awaiting action by the House. 

HB 589 heard 2/22/11 in Economic Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.
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. This legislation has failed for the 2011 session.  HB 149 received an unfavorable report from the Judiciary Committee.

SB 263 received an unfavorable report from the Judicial Proceedings Committee. 
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.  This legislation has failed for the 2011 session.  HB 458 received an unfavorable report from the Judiciary Commtitee.  
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. Heard 2/22/11 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. Bill withdrawn by sponsor. 

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