Mar 2, 2018

JOTF Policy Update-March 2nd, 2018

(See JOTF’s 2018 Policy Agenda here)

Today marks the end of the seventh week of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2018 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.

If you would like to support our 2018 policy agenda, please contact our Policy Team for further information: Nikki Thompson, Senior Policy Advocate or Lee Domeika, Policy Advocate.


Educational Excellence Award Eligibility (SB 842/HB 781) 
Access to affordable higher education is key for low-wage workers, particularly for the non-traditional student. This bill seeks to restructure the eligibility requirements of the Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant, a need-based tuition assistance grant geared specifically for extremely low-income applicants, to allow eligibility for individuals who have secured their high school diploma through the GED® test.
Click here for fact sheet
House Hearing –  March 8 at 1 p.m. in the House Ways & Means Committee

The Payment Incentive Program Expansion Act of 2018 (HB1554)
Low or no-wage workers get hit the hardest by child support orders, which directly impacts their ability to maintain stable employment. This bill seeks to restructure the Child Support Enforcement Administration’s Payment Incentive Program (PIP) to provide more external outreach in counties that under utilize the program and grant participants a “grace period” due to unemployment or seasonal work schedules.
Click here for fact sheet
House Hearing –  March 8 at 1 p.m. in the House Judiciary Committee

The Maryland REDEEM (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment)
Act of 2018 (SB 1212/HB 1383) 
Criminal records continue to be a harsh obstacle to overcome for low-wage workers across the state. This bill 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.
Click here for fact sheet
Senate Hearing – TBD in the Senate Rules Committee
House Hearing – March 13 at 1 p.m. in the House Judiciary Committee

Motor Vehicle Insurance – Use of Credit History in Rating Policies (SB 72/HB 1670)Access to affordable auto insurance is imperative for the low-wage worker who must rely on personal transportation to get to work. JOTF supports this legislation, which prohibits insurers from using an applicant’s credit history in determining their level of risk. Specifically, the legislation seeks to ensure that low-income and low-skill Marylanders are not unfairly denied coverage or saddled with high insurance premiums simply because they are low-income.
Senate Hearing – January 23 at 1 p.m. in the Senate Finance Committee
House Hearing – March 8 at 1 p.m. in the House Economic Matters Committee

If you are interested in submitting written testimony in support of any of our policy priorities, please contactLee Domeika.  Click here for tips of how to draft written testimony.

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2018, the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF), Out for Justice, Inc. (OFJ) and partners will descend on Annapolis for our annual lobby day!  We will march to and rally in front of the Maryland State House to urge support for policies that seek to eliminate educational and employment barriers and increase access to JOBS and JUSTICE for all Marylanders. Attendees can also expect to meet with legislators, engage in informational #JusticeDialogues, and participate in committee hearings. Breakfast and lunch will be provided!

Transportation is available to and from Annapolis. Buses will leave from various locations in Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore County, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. If you are interested in leading a bus or need a seat on a bus, please contact Lee Domeika(JOTF) or Nicole Hanson (OFJ) for more information.

*Bills that the JOTF Policy Team testified on this week*
SB 842/HB 781 – Educational Excellence Award Eligibility
This bill would restructure 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 award monies. Click here to read JOTF’s fact sheet.

(Picture below from left to right are: Gerrod Williamson, Mia Miata Johnson, Regina T. Boyce, Caryn York, Richard Brooks, Lee Domeika, and Michael Richardson)

HB 1597 – Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Application Determinations – Use of Criminal History
JOTF supported this legislation, which seeks to eliminate employment barriers for low-wage workers by prohibiting occupation licensing agencies from denying an application simply because of a criminal record.

SB 945/HB 656- Motor Vehicle Insurance – Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating – Use of Occupation or Education Level
JOTF supported this legislation, which seeks to reduce discriminatory practices by automobile insurers that result in disproportionately high premiums and denying coverage for individuals who are low-income and have limited education.

HB 1313 – Local Correctional Facilities – Pre-release and Work Release Programs – Assessment of Fees
JOTF supported this bill, which would prohibit the collection of fees related to pre-release and work release programs, ensuring that low-wage workers are not pushed further into a debt that they cannot pay off.

SB 795/HB 1103- Higher Education – Private Career Schools and For-Profit Institutions of Higher Education – Regulation
JOTF supported this bill with amendments, which seeks to expand the disclosure requirements for Maryland’s for-profit career schools, ultimately increasing transparency around costs so low-wage students can make informed decisions around enrollment and avoid future debt.

*Legislation to watch next week in Annapolis*
HB779/HB1421/HB1417/HB 1364/HB1314/HB1262 – Delay/Amend Bills of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act
JOTF OPPOSE  – Thursday, March 6 at 1 p.m. in the House Economic Matters Committee
JOTF will oppose any bill seeking to delay or amend the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HB 1 of 2017). All six bills seek to delay or amend the bill, which would restrict or delay access to earned sick leave for workers across the state.

SB 317/HB 951 – Higher Education Degree and Job Certification Without Debt Act of 2018
JOTF SUPPORT – Thursday, March 8 at 1 p.m. in the House Ways & Means Committee
JOTF will support this legislation which seeks to establish the Maryland Community College Promise Program to provide the opportunity for community college students to earn an associate degree or certificate degree debt-free.

SB 543/HB 664 – Labor & Employment – Payment of Minimum Wage Required (Fight for Fifteen)
JOTF SUPPORT – Thursday, March 8 at 1 p.m. in the Senate Finance Committee
JOTF will support this legislation which seeks to increase the state minimum wage to fifteen (15) dollars per hour by fiscal year 2024.


During the first week of February, JOTF released its new report, a 104-page document that details how Maryland policies perpetuate the criminalization of its most vulnerable residents. The Criminalization of Poverty: How to break the cycle through policy reform in Maryland, found that Maryland is criminalizing poverty in numerous ways:
Debtors’ Prisons
Law Enforcement Policies
The Cash Bail System
Limited Expungement
JOTF examines how these policies, and more, disparately impact the poor and people of color, creating a vicious cycle of poverty that has been criminalized through Maryland’s current laws. Save the date for a deep dive into the report followed by an informative discussion.

For more information on the report, please contact JOTF’s Executive Director, Caryn York .

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