JOTF: Job Opportunities Task Force
JOTF Weekly Public Policy Update / February 17, 2012

The Job Opportunities Task Force is pleased to bring you this week's 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.

Alert
March 1st is going to be a busy day in Annapolis ~ Join us for reentry bills hearings and Reentry/Homelessness Lobby Day!

  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, legislator vists, 
  bill hearings for numerous reentry bills, informative workshops and
  more.  Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP. 

Click here for additional details.
  For more information or to RSVP, contact Caryn York at 443-692-9424.

JOTF LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

PRIORITY SUMMARY STATUS HOW TO HELP

Criminal Record Shielding - Nonviolent Convictions

HB 652
SB 667

 

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 Task Force on Prisoner Reentry.     

HB 652 hearing 3/1/12 at 1pm in Judiciary.

SB 667 hearing 3/1/12 at 1pm in Judicial
Proceedings
.
 

Read JOTF's fact sheet on shielding.

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

HB 800
SB 671

 

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 hearing dates.

Read JOTF's fact sheet on banning the box.

Driver's Licensing for Adults

HB 292
SB 506
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 learner's permit from 9 months to 45 days for new drivers over the age of 25. HB 292 was heard on 2/14/12 in Environmental Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 506 hearing 2/29/12 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings. 
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

HB 651
SB 720

 
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 18 or more consecutive months of imprisonment.  HB 651 hearing 3/1/12 at 1pm in Judiciary.

SB 720 hearing 3/6/12 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.
Read JOTF's fact sheet on child support.

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

HB 650
 
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. HB 650 hearing 3/1/12 at 1pm in Judiciary. Read JOTF's fact sheet on diminution credits.

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

HB 457
SB 884
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. HB 457 was heard on 2/15/12 in Ways and Means.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 884 hearing 2/22/12 at 1pm in Finance.
Read JOTF's synopsis.
 

JOTF WATCH LIST

PRIORITY SUMMARY STATUS

Maryland Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act

HB 168

SB 277

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. 

HB 168 was heard on 2/9/12 in Environmental Matters.  Awaiting committee vote.

SB 277 was heard on 2/15/12 in Judicial Proceedings.  Awaiting committee vote.


 

Unemployment Insurance - Coverage - Victims of Domestic Violence

SB 291
This legislation would provide unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who voluntarily leave employment because they or their immediate family member is a victim of domestic violence.
 
Hearing 2/21/12 at 1pm in Finance.
Criminal Procedure - Retention of Right to Expungement

SB 494
Maryland law currently prohibits an individual from expunging any charge contained within a unit of charges, even acquittals and other non-convictions, if the unit includes one charge that is not eligible for expungement.  This bill seeks to permit an individual to expunge any charges within a unit that would otherwise be eligible for expungement. Hearing 3/1/12 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.
Income Tax - Refundable Earned Income Credit

HB 331
In an effort to mitigate the potential regressive impact of revenue increases, the proposed legislation would expand the Maryland Earned Income Credit from 25% to 30% of the Federal EIC. HB 331 was heard on 2/14/12 in Ways and Means.  Awaiting committee vote.
General Assembly - Fiscal Notes - Criminal Justice Policy Impact Statement

HB 709
SB 679
The proposed legislation would require the fiscal notes of bills relating to criminal offenses or sentencing to include a criminal justice policy impact statement, which should contain an estimate of the number of criminal cases that would be affected by the bill, an estimate of the fiscal impact of imprisoning individuals in accordance with the provisions of the bill, the potential impact of the bill on racial and ethnic groups, etc.  SB 679 hearing 2/23/12 at 1pm in Judicial Proceedings.

 
Ex-Offender Business Development Program Study

SB 535
The proposed legislation would require DBED, DLLR, and the Division of Parole and Probation in DPSCS to jointly study the feasibility of establishing a business development program for ex-offenders that invests in businesses run by ex-offenders and provides business training for ex-offenders. Hearing 2/28/12 at 1pm in Finance.
Criminal Procedure - Notice of Eligibility for Expungement

HB 624
The proposed legislation would require the court in certain criminal cases to provide defendants with a brochure containing detailed information about expungement options in Maryland. Hearing 2/28/12 at 1pm in Judiciary.
Board of Public Works - Procurement Contracts - Economic Inclusion Plans

HB 523
The proposed legislation would require BPW to approve an economic inclusion plan for state procurement contracts of $25 million or more.  The plan must promote the training and employment of local residents, and must provide them with job-readiness skills, industry-specific customized training, career coaching, job placement, and job retention services. HB 523 heard 2/16/12 in Health and Government Operations.  Awaiting committee vote.
Maryland Workforce and Career Pathways Act of 2012

HB 869
SB 978
The proposed legislation would establish a Career Pathways Program within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  The Program would be tasked with creating innovative bridge programs at community colleges and establishing a simple process for enabling low-income participants to acquire effective academic and employment training.  HB 869 hearing 3/7/12 at 1pm in Economic Matters.

 
Parent-Teacher Meetings - Unpaid Leave 

HB 567
SB 329
The proposed legislation would require that all Maryland employers allow employees to take up to two instances of unpaid leave, each up to four hours in duration, to attend a parent-teacher conference or meeting each semester.
 
HB 567 hearing 3/21/12 at 1pm in Economic Matters.

SB 329 hearing 2/23/12 at 1pm in Finance.
 

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