2015 Public Policy Agenda
Our advocacy work stems from a recognition that a healthy Maryland economy requires public policies that meet the workforce needs of employers and promote fair and equitable access to economic opportunities for low-income Marylanders.
During the 2015 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that promote education, training and employment advancement opportunities for low-wage, low-skill workers and job-seekers, the reentry of people with criminal records, workplace benefits, and best-practice hiring policies.
Establish paid sick days policies that reflect the reality of today's working families
Everyone gets sick and everyone deserves time to recover without risking their economic stability, yet 41 percent of American workers are unable to earn paid sick days. In Maryland, more than 700,000 of our neighbors are forced to make impossible choices: go to work sick, send an ill child to school or daycare, or stay home and sacrifice much-needed income or, worse, risk job loss. Among low-wage workers, the people who can least afford to take unpaid time off when sick, 82 percent lack access to this basic benefit.
- Ensure that workers are able to earn paid, job-protected sick days that will ensure they don’t have to choose between their health and their economic security.
Promote successful reentry and employment of people with criminal records
Each year approximately 15,000 inmates return from prison to communities across Maryland. Their criminal record and low education levels are enormous barriers to mainstream employment. By adopting policies that promote the long-term employment of former inmates, we can help ensure that these Marylanders find legitimate work, contribute to the economy, and turn their lives around.
- Reduce the impact of a criminal background on employment by allowing individuals to petition the courts, after a waiting period, to shield certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions from their criminal history record.
- Repeal existing criminal Maryland law that prevents the expungement of non-conviction records if a person is subsequently convicted of another crime.
- Establish an automatic expungement standard for court and police records related to charges resulting in dismissal or acquittal.
Enhance access to low-cost auto insurance for all Marylanders
Mobility is a vital factor for working families, yet the insurance industry practice of “territorial rating” – setting premiums based on the statistical likelihood of accidents and claims by residents of a given area – means that urban drivers pay considerably more for car insurance than do other Maryland residents. The lowest-wage Baltimoreans tend to face the highest rates of all – largely regardless of their personal driving histories. A 2003 Maryland Insurance Administration comparison of premiums offered by the state’s ten largest insurance companies found that Baltimore City residents paid up to 60 percent more than those in Baltimore County. JOTF is also concerned by the key role that consumer credit histories play in setting auto insurance rates.
- Prohibit auto insurers from using factors including credit history, education, martial status andoccupation to set insurance rates.
For more information, or to receive policy updates during Maryland's legislative session, contact Melissa Chalmers Broome at 410-234-8046.
For more information, or to receive weekly policy updates during Maryland's legislative session, contact Melissa Broome at 410-234-8046.