2014 Public Policy Agenda

Our advocacy work stems from a recognition that a healthy Maryland economy requires public policies that meet the workforce needs of employers and promote fair and equitable access to economic opportunities for low-income Marylanders.

 

During the 2014 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that promote employment and training opportunities for out-of-work residents, ex-offender reentry, and best-practice hiring policies.

 
Establish paid sick days policies that reflect the reality of today's working families

Everyone gets sick and everyone deserves time to recover without risking their economic stability, yet 41 percent of American workers are unable to earn paid sick days. In Maryland, more than 700,000 of our neighbors are forced to make impossible choices: go to work sick, send an ill child to school or daycare, or stay home and sacrifice much-needed income or, worse, risk job loss. Among low-wage workers, the people who can least afford to take unpaid time off when sick, 82 percent lack access to this basic benefit.

Solution

    • Ensure that workers are able to earn paid, job-protected sick days that will ensure they don’t have to choose between their health and their economic security.
 
Promote successful reentry and employment of people with criminal records

Each year approximately 15,000 inmates return from prison to communities across Maryland. Their criminal record and low education levels are enormous barriers to mainstream employment. By adopting policies that promote the long-term employment of former inmates, we can help ensure that these Marylanders find legitimate work, contribute to the economy, and turn their lives around.

Solution

    • Reduce the impact of a criminal background on employment by allowing individuals to petition the courts, after a waiting period, to shield certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions from their criminal history record.

 
Enhance education, training and employment opportunities for low-skill, low-wage workers

Maryland’s low-income workers need access to training to advance in the workplace and obtain jobs with family supporting wages. In these challenging economic times, when jobs are scarce and employers are looking for workers with specific skills, it is even more important for the state to increase its investment in adult basic education, training and hiring, and to develop clear employment pipelines that allow low-skill and hard-to-employ workers to advance through training and into the workforce.

Solutions

  • Expand state and local policies to increase employment opportunities for low-skill adults through public works expenditures.  
  • Ensure that the state’s training programs are effective and linked to career pathways that lead to high-wage jobs.      
  • Preserve the access and affordability of the GED examination.
  • Increase funding for workforce training programs that will upgrade the skills of entry level and incumbent workers.   

Enhance training, employment opportunities for low-skill, low-wage workers

Maryland’s low-income workers need access to training in order to advance in the workplace and obtain jobs with family supporting wages. In these challenging economic times when jobs are scarce and employers are looking for workers with specific skills, it is even more important for the state to increase its investment in training and hiring.

Solutions

  • Expand state and local policies to increase employment opportunities for low-skill adults through public works expenditures.
  • Increase funding for workforce training programs that will upgrade the skills of entry level and incumbent workers.  
  • Create a low-cost auto insurance program that will close the gap between what low-wage drivers can afford to pay for insurance and what companies charge for basic coverage.
  • Increase Maryland’s minimum wage.  

 

For more information, or to receive policy updates during Maryland's legislative session, contact Melissa Chalmers Broome at 410-234-8046.

 

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