Mar 17, 2017

3/17/17 – JOTF Weekly Update: SB230 Passes the Senate and Bail Reform in Jeopardy

Today marks the end of the tenth 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 progressing through the legislative process. 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. For more information on JOTF’s 2017 policy agenda in Annapolis, please contact Caryn York.
SB 230 Passes the Senate 29-18!

We did it! Yesterday with a veto-proof majority of 29 affirmative votes, we advanced SB230- Maryland Healthy Working Families Act through the Senate! Because of you– your calls, emails and personal visits to legislators–we are now closer than EVER to allowing hundreds of thousands of Marylanders to earn paid sick days so they can care for their families.

Click here to thank the Maryland Senate for passing SB230. Please join us in showing our appreciation to them! We still have a number of hurdles to overcome before we reach the finish line, but yesterday’s vote moves us so much closer to victory!

Bail Reform in Jeopardy–Action Needed!

Maryland’s current reliance on money bail results in a system where poor individuals who pose a low threat to public safety languish in jail, while wealthier individuals who may present a serious danger to public safety are able to walk free. The poor who remain jailed, simply because they cannot afford cash bail, experience the loss of wages, jobs, and housing, and are unable to fulfill their family obligations. Even short jail stays can cost families their household income for months–this creates a domino effect for families who are already in poverty; it jeopardizes their ability to meet basic needs and threatens their very survival.

There is an effort in Annapolis by special interest groups to undermine our Coalition efforts and pass Senate Bill 983, sponsored by Sen Anthony Muse. The Coalition for a Safe and Just Maryland OPPOSES this legislation, even as amended–it seeks to maintain our current pretrial system that is ineffective, racially biased, and fails to keep our communities safe.

In a 7-4 vote late last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure–SB 983 will be voted on by the full Senate early next week! Therefore it is imperative that you contact your Senator and urge them to vote NO on SB 983! Find your Senator HERE.  To help you craft your email/call information and talking points on SB 983 are available here.

For more information regarding bail reform efforts, please contact Caryn York.

Eye on Annapolis–Status Updates
*Below is a list of the bills that our policy team has been monitoring in Annapolis. We will continue to keep you posted on the status of these bills and other important pieces of legislation*

House Bill 1/ Senate Bill 230 
Maryland Healthy Working Families Act
Everyone gets sick, but not everyone can take time off when they do. Our neighbors are going to work sick or sending a sick child to school, because staying home means losing needed income or risking being fired. This legislation would grant Maryland workers access to earned sick leave, 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.
HB 1 Passed Third Reader in the HOD (88-51)- Hearing 3/14 in Senate Finance Committee.
SB 230 Passed Third Reader in Sen (29-18)- First Reading Economic Matters.

Senate Bill 335/ House Bill 652
Career Apprenticeship Opportunity Act of 2017
This legislation incentivizes employers to provide structured, supervised, on the job training for apprenticeable careers. JOTF supports this initiative as a means of promoting training and technical education accessibility for the state’s youth population while developing a more highly trained workforce.
SB 335 had a hearing on 2/16- awaiting committee vote.HB 652 had a hearing on 2/28- awaiting committee vote.

House Bill 440/ Senate Bill 55
Employers of Ex-Offenders – Liability for Negligent Hiring or Inadequate Supervision – Immunity
SUPPORT with Amendments
This legislation seeks to establish 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.
HB 440 had a hearing on 2/21-Unfavorable Report by Economic Matters Committee.
SB 55 had a hearing on 1/24- Unfavorable Report by Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senate Bill 533/ House Bill 1295
Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program
This legislation seeks to establish a low-cost automobile insurance program for low-income individuals in Maryland. The bill would to provide low-cost insurance through the existing Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, to safe drivers whose income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. As the ability to maintain reliable transportation is critical to employment, this bill would ensure that low-income Marylanders can access affordable auto insurance.
SB 533 had a hearing on 2/28- awaiting committee vote.HB 1295 had a hearing on 3/2- awaiting committee vote.

House Bill 694/ Senate Bill 543
Higher Education – Admissions Process – Criminal History (Maryland Fair Access to Education Act of 2017)
This legislation prohibits an institution of higher education that receives State funds from inquiring into or considering information about the criminal history of an individual during the admissions process. The legislation would remove the question from initial college applications that asks applicants to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to indicate that they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
HB 694 passed second reader in the HOD with Amendments.
SB 543 had a hearing on 2/15- awaiting committee vote.

Senate Bill 699/ House Bill 467
Providing Our Workers Education and Readiness (POWER) – Apprenticeship Act
This legislation would require each contractor or subcontractor awarded a contract for at least $500,000
for a capital construction project that receives at least $1.0 million in the State’s capital budget to (1) be affiliated with a registered apprenticeship program and use apprentices in each covered craft that is used; (2) make payments to the State Apprenticeship Training Fund; or (3) make specified payments directly to a registered apprenticeship program.
SB 699 had a hearing on 3/9- awaiting committee vote.
HB 467 had a hearing on 2/21- awaiting committee vote.
House Bill 840
Criminal Procedure – Partial Expungement
House Bill 840 would allow for the “partial expungement” of any charges within a unit that would otherwise be eligible for expungement, regardless of other ineligible charges.
HB 840 had a hearing on 2/28- awaiting committee vote.
 Senate Bill 866/ House Bill 1381
Adult High School Pilot Program
This legislation would establish a pilot to allow Maryland adult learners to obtain a high school diploma in an alternative education and training setting.
SB 866 Passed Third Reader in the Sen (47-0)
HB 1381 Passed Third Reader in the HOD (140-0).

House Bill 916/ Senate Bill 534
Motor Vehicle Insurance – Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating – Prohibitions
This legislation would  reduce discriminatory practices by insurers that result in disproportionately high auto insurance premiums for specific populations.
HB 916 Passed Third Reader in HOD (138-0)- Hearing on 3/28 in Finance Committee.
SB 534 Passed Third Reader in Sen (47-0)- First Reading Economic Matters.

House BIll 1237
Expungement – Acquittal, Dismissal, Nolle Prosequi (Non-Convictions)SUPPORT– JOTF SIGNATURE PRIORITY
House Bill 1237 would eliminate the court filing fee ($30) for individuals seeking expungement of an acquittal, dismissal, or nolle prosequi.
HB 1237 had a hearing on 2/28- Unfavorable Report by Judiciary.

House Bill 1390/ Senate Bill 880
Criminal Procedure – Pretrial Release – Reform (Maryland Pretrial Reform Act of 2017)
Maryland’s current pretrial system includes three major issues that must be immediately addressed: economically and racially discriminatory bail policies and practices; bail policies and practices that put community safety at risk; and little use of community-led, evidence-based practices that can address both economic and racial disparities and community safety. This legislation represents the most practical, evidence-based path to making pretrial justice in Maryland fairer, safer, and more cost-effective.
HB 1390 was withdrawn by the Sponsor.
SB 880 had a hearing on 3/1- awaiting committee vote.

Senate Bill 853/ House Bill 860
Transitional Supports for Ex-Offenders – Repeal of Restrictions (Maryland Equal Access to Food Act of 2017)
This legislation eliminates the partial ban on SNAP and TCA benefits and the drug testing and treatment requirement for those recipients that are convicted of a felony drug offense.
SB 853 received a Favorable report in Finance Committee-Special Ordered until 3/20.
HB 860 passed Third Reader in HOD (83-52)- Hearing on 3/29 in Finance Committee.

United for Justice Lobby Day in Annapolis
Tuesday, March 28th

Join us in Annapolis  on Tuesday, March 28 as we march to the Capitol, rally on Lawyers’ Mall, visit with legislators, and host informative workshops to urge support for state legislative proposals that ensure justice for all! Transportation can be provided for those traveling to Annapolis. Buses will depart from your location between 7-8 AM and return throughout the late afternoon. The event is FREE but an RSVP is required.  For more information click here! To RSVP please contact our Policy Associate Seanniece Bamiro and view the event on Facebook.

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