1/27/17 – JOTF Weekly Update: Week Three in Annapolis
Today marks the end of the third week of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 Legislative Session. JOTF’s policy team is hard at work in Annapolis managing our legislative agenda and ensuring that our signature priorities are taking shape. As we continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of low-wage workers and job seekers across our state, we want you to be aware of some key highlights from this past week.
Rally for Healthy Working Families
On Monday evening in Annapolis, leaders representing faith, education, and small business, as well as hardworking Marylanders who lack access to earned sick days, made the case for the Healthy Working Families Act. They were joined by dozens of Working Matters Coalition members from community and social services groups, labor, public health and social justice organizations. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB1/ SB230) would allow full-time and part-time employees at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 full days (or 56 hours) per year for full-time workers. It would lift up hundreds of thousands of hardworking Marylanders who are currently unable to earn paid sick leave. To sign the petition and show your support for the Healthy Working Families Act click here.
Hearing Dates Set for The Healthy Working Families Act
Bill hearings on the 2017 Healthy Working Families Act have been scheduled for February 9 at 1:00 pm in the Senate Finance Committee, and February 10 at 12:30 pm in the House Economic Matters Committee. We hope you will join us in Annapolis both days, as it’s critical that we fill the hearing room with supporters! Click here for more information.
Eye on Annapolis
*Below is a list of the bills that our policy team monitored this week in Annapolis. We will continue to keep you posted on the status of these bills and other important pieces of legislation*
Senate Bill 55
Employers of Ex-Offenders – Liability for Negligent Hiring or Inadequate Supervision – Immunity
Support with Amendments
JOTF has consistently advocated for policies that ensure that mechanisms for relief are available for both those workers with a criminal record and for employers seeking to hire workers with a criminal record. Senate Bill 55 seeks to address this by establishing that an employer may not be held liable for negligently hiring or failing to adequately supervise an employee based on the employee possessing a criminal record. JOTF supports Senate Bill 55, but urged the committee to adopt and incorporate language that would expand the pool of eligible employers. This would ensure that those employers that are willing and interested in hiring workers with a criminal background are afforded the same protections as others. To read more about JOTF’s testimony at the hearing on Tuesday, click here.
House Bill 137
Unemployment Insurance – Recovery of Benefits – Collection by Assessment
Unemployment insurance (UI) is meant to serve as a safety net for workers who lose their job through no fault of their own. Providing benefits helps ensure that hardworking families can meet their basic needs when dealing with the sudden hardship of job loss. The bill seeks to expedite recovery from claimants with outstanding UI overpayments by allowing the state to file a notice of lien against the claimants personal property. This method of recovery would allow the state to bypass obtaining a judgement in court, meaning individuals would lose the due process protections to which they are entitled. This bill could undermine not only the very intention of unemployment insurance – by actually increasing financial instability – but also the goal of recovering the UI overpayment. JOTF strongly urged an unfavorable vote on HB 137 as it would inevitably lead to unjust treatment and increased financial hardship of claimants.
Caryn York Announced as JOTF Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships
Described as a “fierce and tireless advocate for social justice,” Baltimore born-and-bred Caryn York (Aslan) has been promoted to the new position of Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships. In this new position, Caryn will develop and advance JOTF policy priorities at the state and local levels; establish and maintain strategic partnerships with key stakeholders; share her expertise on workforce development and adult education, fair and inclusive workplace policies, and strategies to remove barriers to employment. She will continue to represent JOTF on key local and state task forces, work groups, and at public forums around the state. York previously held positions of Policy Associate and Senior Policy Advocate and has worked at the organization since 2011.