Apr 6, 2018

Action Alert – April 6, 2018

Last Week of the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session

We are in the final days of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly! With just 48 hours left, JOTF’s policy team is hard at work in Annapolis to ensure that our signature priorities are passed. Please see below for important updates: the status of our top policy priorities, updates on supported and opposed legislation and final action alerts that need your assistance.

Policy Priority Updates

Child Support

Child Support -The Payment Incentive Program Act of 2018 (HB1554)

This session, JOTF supported this bill which restructures the Child Support Enforcement Administration’s Payment Incentive Program (PIP) to provide more external outreach in counties that under utilize the program, grants participants a “grace period” due to unemployment or seasonal work schedules, and allows for the “grandfathering in” of payments made immediately before acceptance into the program. HB 1554 passed in the House 137-1 and is on third reader in the Senate awaiting a floor vote. We thank Delegate Jazz Lewis (Prince George’s County) for his sponsorship of this important bill thus far and a warm thank you to the advocates who continue to support this bill!
Click here for fact sheet

For more information on this bill, please contact JOTF’s Senior Policy Advocate, Nikki Thompson, at Nikki@jotf.org.

Access to Education

Higher Education – Educational Excellence Award Eligibility – High School Diploma by Examination (SB 842/HB 781)

This session, JOTF supported SB 842/HB 781 which restructures the eligibility requirements of the Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant (GAG) to allow non-traditional students, specifically those who secured their high school diploma via the GED test, to access GAG’s tuition assistance. HB 781 has passed both chambers, and SB 842 has passed third reader unanimously. Once complete, the bill will head to the Governor’s desk! Many thanks to Senator Joan Carter Conway (Baltimore City), Delegate Nick J. Mosby (Baltimore City), and Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (Montgomery County) for their sponsorship and co-sponsorship of this important bill. And, of course, another warm thank you to our advocates who supported this effort!
Click here for a fact sheet
Click here for a recent article on SB 842/HB 781 from the National Skills Coalition

For more information on this legislation, please contact JOTF’s Policy Advocate, Lee Domeika, at Lee@jotf.org.


The Maryland REDEEM (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act) Act of 2018 (SB 1212/HB 1383)

This session, JOTF supported this legislation as it seeks to allow for the automatic expungement of non-convictions and clarifies the definition and expungement eligibility for dated, invalidated arrest warrants after a certain period of time. Additionally, it seeks to provide expungement eligibility for all nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after three (3) years, and certain nonviolent felonies after five (5) years. Unfortunately, SB 1212/HB 1383 has yet to receive a committee vote from the Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committees due to pending negotiations on the Hogan-Zirkin Crime Bill (SB 122).

For more information on this bill, please contact JOTF’s Senior Policy Advocate, Nikki Thompson, at Nikki@jotf.org.

Action Alert (!)

The Hogan-Zirkin Crime Bill

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus strongly rejected the proposed Senate Bill 122, even as amended by the House Judiciary Committee, because it will disproportionately impact poor communities of color. Senate Bill 122 does not address the causes of recidivism, poverty, or joblessness and will only drive unemployment by increasing the number of individuals who have a criminal record.

JOTF is thrilled that the Black Caucus rejected this proposed solution for Baltimore, and is cautiously optimistic that their colleagues in House of Delegates chamber of the Maryland General Assembly will respect their vote and follow suit in its opposition. JOTF strongly opposes SB 122 as it will increase incarceration through mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements and will also disproportionately impact poor communities of color.  Legislation that seeks to tie needed funding in community-based initiatives for Baltimore City to tried-and-failed mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements that ensure more black and brown residents are incarcerated is misguided and offensive. This is why the Legislative Black Caucus’ opposition should be respected and followed.

Your Delegate(s) needs to hear from YOU.  Please take a moment to contact your Delegate(s) to urge them to support the Black Caucus vote and urge the House Leadership to REJECT SB 122. Click here to input your address to locate your representatives.

Example Email/Phone Script:

Dear Delegate _____. My name is ______ and I am calling/emailing to urge your opposition of SB 122, which increases mandatory minimums and maximum sentences and disproportionately impacts communities of color. This bill will simply increase our reliance on incarceration, which does not deter crime and predominantly impacts communities of color from accessing stable, reliable employment. SB 122 does nothing to truly address the root causes of crime in Baltimore. We need to invest in supportive systems that increase employability, safety, and community. I urge you to oppose SB 122 and work towards better pathways for community safety that don’t rely on the heavy and ineffective use of mass incarceration.

For more information on SB 122, please contact Nikki Thompson, Senior Policy Advocate atNikki@jotf.org or 410-725-8434.


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