2023 Legislative Wrap-Up
Policy Advocate Ioana Stoica joined the bill signing on April 24, 2023 for Senate Bill 104: Labor and Employment – Apprenticeship 2030 Commission and Representation on the Apprenticeship and Training Council, sponsored by Senators Augustine and Rosapepe
On Monday, April 10, 2023, the Maryland General Assembly brought the 445th Legislative Session to a close. During the 90-day session in Annapolis, JOTF advocated for the following public policy initiatives that promoted access to jobs, skills training, and benefits, contributed to the decriminalization of poverty, and removed barriers to employment.
JOTF ended the 2023 legislative session with key legislative wins on behalf of low-wage workers and job seekers in Maryland.
Thank You for Your Support!
The following bills passed and will take effect on June 1st, 2023 once they are signed by the Governor:
House Bill 97 / Senate Bill 37: Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Waiting Periods
A criminal record can easily be both the cause and consequence of poverty. The appearance of a criminal record in a routine background check can, and many times will block access to employment, education, housing, and occupational licensing- all of which are necessary to advance in Maryland. JOTF successfully pursued legislation that allows nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions to be eligible for expungement for five (5) and seven (7) years after completing any mandatory supervision, including parole and probation.
House Bill 454 / Senate Bill 187: Health Occupations – Licenses, Certificates, and Registrations – Lawful Presence and Identification Numbers
As of 2022, Maryland hospitals face the most critical staffing shortage in recent history, with one in every four nurse positions vacant. High staff turnover, shifting care delivery models, and an insufficient nursing pipeline is reaching an unsustainable point that stretches bedside care incredibly thin and further strains the workforce across the care continuum. JOTF successfully pursued legislation that allows occupational licensing boards to use either the ITIN or SSN when securing a professional license.
House Bill 9 / Senate Bill 19: Equity In Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses
This bill requires that equity be considered when State transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed and that the Department of Transportation conduct transit equity analyses, cost-benefit analyses, and consult with certain communities before announcing or proposing any major service change or any reduction or cancellation of a certain capital expansion project in the construction program.
House Bill 988 / Senate Bill 828: Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Modifications
This legislation ensures equitable implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. Specifically, this bill establishes the contribution split between employers and employees; extends the implementation timeline to give the Department of Labor more time to develop regulations and procure the necessary technology to run the program; removes language that required employees to use all their employer-provided leave before they can use the State program; and incorporates best practices from other states’ experiences in implementing paid family and medical leave programs.
JOTF successfully blocked the following bill:
House Bill 1015: Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Seasonal Temporary Workers
The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act was passed in 2017 after a long six-year fight that JOTF led. The absence or delay of earned sick leave leads to increasing pressure and fear of losing income, which for a low-wage working family can ultimately mean the loss of stability on a variety of levels: family, economic, health, and more. This bill would have altered the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act by exempting seasonal workers from accruing sick and safe leave, which is why JOTF was instrumental in leading the OPPOSITION to this bill.
JOTF Priorities That Did Not Pass
House Bill 664 / Senate Bill 17: Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Good Cause
Current law states that courts may grant a petition for expungement at any time on a showing of good cause if the charges resulted in a non-conviction, probation before judgment, stet, or if the charge was vacated. This session, JOTF seeks to expand the court’s good cause expungement power to misdemeanors or felonies that they deem worthy.
DID NOT PASS: House Bill 664 and Senate Bill 17 failed to secure a committee vote in the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, respectively.
House Bill 746 / Senate Bill 544: Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Waiting Period
In Maryland, individuals receive a visible criminal record regardless if they were convicted of a crime. Acquittals, dismissals, and nolle prosequis (i.e. non-convictions) are automatically expunged after the statute of limitations (3 years), thanks to JOTF’s 2021 reforms. However, these non-convictions remain visible to employers, landlords, property managers, licensing boards, and colleges until the three-year window has closed and can limit opportunities for the individual. JOTF seeks to shield non-convictions from public view for three years until they are automatically expunged.
DID NOT PASS: House Bill 746 and Senate Bill 544 failed to secure a committee vote in the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, respectively.
House Bill 326 / Senate Bill 164: Driver’s Licenses – Suspension for Child Support Arrearages – Exception
Child support enforcement policies and practices fail to differentiate between ‘deadbeat’ and ‘dead broke’ parents. Current law allows the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend the driver’s licenses of non-custodial parents, who are overwhelmingly unemployed and low-income, crippling any chance they have of legally driving to or finding work. The proposed legislation would have eliminated the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for the non-payment of child support if an obligor makes less than 300% FPL ($40,770). Read JOTF’s testimony here.
DID NOT PASS: Senate Bill 164 passed out of the Senate and the House; however, the bill stalled at the concurrence phase and failed review in the original chamber.
House Bill 1001 Baltimore City – Workforce Development Automobile Insurance Subsidy Program
Maryland law allows private auto insurers to utilize non-driving related factors, including credit scores, education level, occupation, and zip code to set insurance premiums. These factors result in disproportionately high premiums for low-income workers of color who simply can’t afford it. The Consumer Federation of America found that good drivers with low credit scores or in predominantly African American zip codes are charged nearly double what their counterparts are, controlling for all other factors, including driving record. This session, JOTF is supporting the creation of a three-year pilot program to distribute auto insurance subsidies to drivers who graduate from vocational training programs in Baltimore City.
DID NOT PASS: House Bill 1001 received an Unfavorable Vote in the Economic Matters Committee due to the fiscal note.
House Bill 154: Workgroup to Study the Impact of Court-Mandated Fines and Fees
This bill would establish a workgroup to study the impact of court-mandated fines and fees, a comprehensive database and schedule of court-mandated fines and fees, and a plan and recommendations for eliminating or reducing fines and fees.
DID NOT PASS: House Bill 154 failed to secure a committee vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
Other Successful Legislation
In addition to JOTF priority bills, our team worked closely in coalition and alongside legislators to support the following bills, which passed during the 2023 Maryland Legislative Session.
- Senate Bill 551: Department of Service and Civic Innovation and Maryland Corps Program Service Year Option Pathways – Established (Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act of 2023) – this legislation will establish the Department of Service and Civic Innovation to promote service and volunteerism in the State and establish the Young Adult Service Year Option Pathway Fund.
- Senate Bill 104: Labor and Employment – Apprenticeship 2030 Commission and Representation on the Apprenticeship and Training Council – this legislation will establish the Apprenticeship 2030 Commission to examine and make recommendations to expand access to apprenticeships to reduce skill shortages in high-demand occupations and provide affordable training for career pathways for young people.
- Senate Bill 555: Fair Wage Act of 2023 – this legislation will increase the State minimum wage rate and repeal the authority of the Board of Public Works to temporarily suspend an increase in the minimum wage rate.
- House Bill 42/Senate Bill 106: Courts – Judgments – Exemptions From Execution – this legislation will exempt up to $500 in a deposit account or other accounts of a judgment debtor held by a depository institution from execution on the judgment without an election by the debtor to exempt the money.
- House Bill 794: Baltimore Regional Transit Commission – Establishment – this legislation will establish the Baltimore Regional Transit Commission to review and comment on annual budget requests of the Maryland Transit Administration, to update the Central Maryland Transportation Plan, and to perform other oversight and advocacy duties related to Baltimore region transit services.
- House Bill 36/Senate Bill 100: Real Property – Actions to Repossess – Proof of Rental Licensure – this legislation will require, in certain actions to repossess residential rental property, a landlord to submit to the clerk of the court evidence of compliance with local rental property licensure requirements.
- Senate Bill 848: Statewide Rental Assistance Voucher Program – Establishment – this legislation will establish a Statewide Rental Assistance Voucher Program in the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide vouchers and housing assistance payments for low-income families that are on a waiting list under the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program.
- House Bill 127: District Court – Small Claims – Enforcement of Money Judgments – this legislation will prohibit the District Court, in aid of enforcement or execution of a money judgment resulting from a certain small claim action, from ordering the appearance of an individual for an examination or ordering an individual to answer interrogatories.