Bill H.1754 188th (2013 - 2014)
An Act addressing long term unemployment in target communities
By Mr. O'Day of West Boylston, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 1754) of James J. O'Day and Carlos Henriquez for legislation to promote employment in target communities with long-term unemployment. Labor and Workforce Development.
Applicant - means any current or prospective employee, licensee, or volunteer and includes all persons included in 803 C.M.R. 2.03.
Census tract - means a population census tract, or, if census tracts are not defined for the area, a block numbering area (BNA) as established by the Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce.
CORI - Criminal Offender Record Information, as defined in 803 CMR 2.03
DCJIS – means the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, the Commonwealth agency statutorily designated to oversee the authorized provision of Criminal Offender Record Information to the community.
Grant – refers to a Justice Reinvestment Employment Grant established in Section 3.
Grantee – refers to a private employer or a Justice Reinvestment Work Program that receives funding under this Act.
Otherwise Qualified – means any Applicant that meets all other criteria for a position or consideration for a position
Target Community – refers to those 50 census tracts defined in Section 1 of this Act, where residents are eligible for unemployment funded by grants under this Act, and where work funded by grants under this Act will be performed.
Trust Fund – refers to the Justice Reinvestment Trust Fund established under section 2.
SECTION 1. The Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security shall collaborate to identify those 50 census tracts throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the highest incidence of poverty (as measured in the most recent U.S. Census) that also fall among the 100 census tracts with the highest crime rates. These 50 neighborhoods shall be designated Justice Reinvestment Target Communities (henceforth “target communities”), provided that no more than 40% of the selected target communities shall be located in any one county.
SECTION 2. There shall be established a Justice Reinvestment Trust Fund (henceforth “the trust fund”) of not less than $200 million annually. The trust fund shall be administered by the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, for the purposes of providing funding for the Justice Reinvestment Employment Grants, and for the Justice Reinvestment Work Programs defined in Section 3.
(a) Justice Reinvestment Employment Grants - Subject to the availability of funds in the trust fund, the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development will accept applications from private employers for grant funding for the purposes established in subsection (c) of this section.
(b) Justice Reinvestment Work Program - Beginning one year after enactment of this Act, if there are insufficient qualified private employers approved to receive grants to employ 100 people in a target community, the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development shall establish a Justice Reinvestment Work Program, to directly employ residents of that target community. Such program will be eligible to apply for employment grants under this Act.
(c) Purpose - Grants made under this section shall be for creating employment opportunities for unemployed and underemployed individuals in activities designed to address community needs and reduce disparities in health, housing, education, job readiness, and public infrastructure that have impeded these communities from realizing their full economic potential.
(d) Use of Funds- A recipient of a grant under this section (hereafter, “grantee”) shall use the grant for the following purposes:
(1) Construction, re-construction, rehabilitation, and site improvements of residences or public facilities, including improvements in the energy efficiency or environmental quality of such public facilities or residences within a target community.
(2) Provision of human services, including child care services, health care services, education, or recreational programs within a target community.
(3) The remediation and demolition of vacant and abandoned properties to eliminate blight within a target community.
(4) Programs that provide disadvantaged youth with opportunities for employment, education, leadership development, entrepreneurial skills development, and training within a target community.
(5) The painting and repair of schools, community centers, and libraries within a target community.
(6) The restoration and revitalization of abandoned and vacant properties to alleviate blight in distressed and foreclosure-affected areas within a target community.
(7) The expansion of emergency food programs to reduce hunger and promote family stability within a target community.
(8) The augmentation of staffing in Head Start, child care, and other early childhood education programs to promote school readiness and early literacy within a target community.
(9) The renovation and enhancement of maintenance of parks, playgrounds, and other public spaces within a target community.
(10) Supplemental labor for existing federally or State-funded infrastructure projects within a target community.
(11) Supplemental labor for existing federally or state-funded projects aimed at expanding access to weatherization or green energy projects within a target community.
(12) Other activities that address public needs within a target community, and which can be implemented as quickly as the activities described in paragraphs (1) through (11).
(e) Conditions- As a condition of receiving a grant under this section, a grantee shall--
(1) agree to comply with the nondiscrimination policy set forth under section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5309);
(2) with respect to the funds allocated for each project funded under the grant--
(A) allocate not less than 75 percent for wages and benefits, and support services, including child care services, for individuals hired from target communities, under the provisions of this Act
(B) allocate the remaining funds to defray the other costs of the project, including necessary capital goods, supplies, materials, rental payments, compensation of employees who do not reside in the target community, transportation and other similar expenses;
(3) ensure that employment on any project funded under the grant is carried out in accordance with subsection (d);
(4) institute an outreach program with community organizations and service providers in low-income communities to provide information about placements funded under the grant to potential Justice Reinvestment Employees;
(5) ensure that no fewer than 35 percent of individuals employed under the grant are individuals described in paragraph (4)(B) of subsection (f).
(6) abide by the CORI guidelines outlined in Section 4
(f) Employment Described- Employment funded under this section shall meet the following specifications:
(1) Any employer that employs an individual whose employment is funded under the grant shall--
(A) continue to employ such individual for not less than 12 months, subject to the individual’s satisfactory performance of the reasonable requirements of the individual’s employment;
(B) if such an individual desires full-time employment, employ such individual for not less than 35 hours per week and not more than 40 hours, and if such an individual desires part-time work, employ such individual for a mutually agreed number of hours per week that is less than 35 hours per week;
(C) comply with responsible contractor standards, as determined by the relevant official in the unit of local general government;
(D) provide compensation to such individual on a per hour basis equal to the compensation provided to public sector employees who perform similar work in the community where such individual is employed or, if no public sector employees perform such similar work, provide compensation to such individual that is comparable to the compensation provided to private-sector employees who perform similar work in the community where such individual is employed;
(E) if such employment is in construction, provide compensation to any laborer or mechanic employed under the grant at rates not less than those prevailing on similar construction in the locality
(F) offer assistance to such individual in applying for social benefits for which such individual or the members of such individual’s family may be eligible.
(G) offer assistance to such individual in enrolling in high school, GED preparation, or college-level courses, and in applying for financial aid for such educational programs.
(2) No individual whose employment is funded under the grant may work for an employer at which a collective bargaining agreement is in effect covering the same or similar work, unless--
(A) the consent of the union at such employer is obtained; and
(B) negotiations have taken place between such union and the employer as to the terms and conditions of such employment.
(3) (A) An employer may not employ an individual for a position funded under this Act, if--
(I) employing such individual will result in the layoff or partial displacement (such as a reduction in hours, wages, or employee benefits) of an existing employee of the employer; or
(II) such individual will perform the same or substantially similar work that had previously been performed by an employee of the employer who has been laid off or partially displaced (as such term is described in subclause (I); and has not been offered by the employer to be restored to the position the employee had immediately prior to being laid off or partially displaced.
(III) An individual may not be hired for a position funded under this Act in a manner that infringes upon the promotional opportunities of an existing employee (as of the date of such hiring) of an employer receiving funds under this Act.
(B) A community-based organization receiving funds under this Act may not use such funds to provide services or functions that are customarily provided by a unit of general local government where such services or functions are provided by the organization.
(4) An individual hired to fill a job funded under this Act shall be a resident of a target community, and must provide at least one proof of address including, but not limited to: a Massachusetts Identification Card, a Massachusetts driver’s license, or a utility or telephone bill due within the previous 60 days. An individual hired to fill a job funded under this Act shall also register with and be certified by the appropriate State employment service as eligible for such employment, and shall satisfy at least one of the following conditions as of the date the individual is so hired:
(A) The individual is receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
(B) The individual is unemployed, a member of a targeted group as defined by section 51(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and has been seeking employment, with the assistance of the state employment service, for not less than 30 days prior to the date on which the individual is so hired.
(C) The individual is unemployed and seeking employment, with the assistance of the state employment service, for not less than 60 days prior to the date the individual is so hired.
(D) The individual has been employed part-time while seeking full-time employment with the assistance of the state employment service for not less than 60 days prior to the date the individual is so hired.
(5) An individual employed in a job funded under this Act shall--
(A) notwithstanding the individual’s employment in a job funded under this Act, be registered with the appropriate state employment service as available for and seeking work;
(B) respond appropriately, as a person available for and seeking employment, to referrals by the State employment service concerning available jobs;
(C) apply for suitable jobs for which the individual has been referred by the state employment service; and
(D) accept a suitable job if such job is offered to the individual.
For purposes of subparagraphs (C) and (D), the term ‘suitable job’ means a job that a newly unemployed individual receiving unemployment insurance benefits would be required to accept in order to avoid forfeiting the individual’s eligibility for continued receipt of unemployment insurance benefits, as defined in MGL Chapter 151A, Section 25.
(6) An individual employed in a job funded under this Act who terminates that employment in order to accept other employment, and who subsequently is terminated from that other employment without fault on the individual’s part, shall be eligible for reemployment in a job funded under this Act.
(7) In hiring individuals for positions funded under this Act, or using funds under this Act to continue to provide employee compensation for existing employees, an employer shall comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws, personnel policies and regulations, and collective bargaining agreements, as if such individual was hired, or such employee compensation were provided, without assistance under this Act.
(8) An individual hired for a position funded under this Act shall--
(A) be considered an employee of the employer, by which such individual was hired; and
(B) receive the same employee compensation, have the same rights and responsibilities and job classifications, and be subject to the same job standards, employer policies, and collective bargaining agreements as if such individual were hired without assistance under this Act.
(9) An individual hired for a position funded under this Act shall, no later than six months from receiving his or her first paycheck, enroll in an accredited educational program such as high school, GED preparation classes, vocational training program, or college, and continue to attend classes throughout the term of employment.
(g) Award of Grants-
(1) SELECTION CRITERIA- In selecting a project to receive funding for employing the individuals described in subsection (f)(4), the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development shall consider--
(A) the input of all participants in a proposed project, including labor organizations, community organizations, and employers;
(B) the needs of the community intended to benefit from such project;
(C) the long-term goals and short-term objectives to address such needs; and
(D) any recommendations for programs and activities developed to meet such needs.
SECTION 4 - CORI guidelines
(a) Grantees receiving funding under the Justice Reinvestment Act will adhere to a policy of affording a rehabilitated individual with a criminal record with a fair opportunity to be employed and reintegrate successfully into the workforce, while protecting vulnerable populations and the public safety. Consistent with this policy, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify an Applicant from employment, unless explicitly mandated by law.
(b) Grantees will not conduct a CORI check or make any inquiry into an Applicant’s possible criminal history, or include any such inquiry on any initial employment application form, until after an Applicant’s credentials have been reviewed, it has determined that the Applicant is otherwise qualified for a position and a conditional offer of employment has been made. A funded program will not conduct a CORI check on an Applicant who is not otherwise qualified for a relevant position.
(c) Grantees will not check an Otherwise Qualified Applicant’s CORI unless a CORI check is mandated by law or it determines that the position in question is of such sensitivity (for example, working with a vulnerable population) that a CORI check is warranted.
(d) Any personnel responsible for reviewing CORI be trained on reading and interpreting a CORI report. Such personnel shall be required to attend CORI training and be knowledgeable about educational materials made available by DCJIS.
(e) Grantees will conduct a CORI check only as authorized by the DCJIS, will not rely on an improperly issued CORI and will return the record to DCJIS for issuance of the appropriate report, if any, whenever it might receive a report containing matters not requested or otherwise authorized for release to the city.
(f) Grantees will consider the result of a properly issued CORI report only in those instances where the content of the record is substantially relevant to the duties and qualifications of a position in question.
(g) Grantees will follow the practices set forth below when it is inclined to deny an Applicant a position because of the results of a CORI:
(1) Ensure that the record received pertains to the individual for whom a request was made by comparing the Applicant’s identifying information, such as that on a driver’s license or government issued identification, or CORI request form, to the information on the CORI report;
(2) Provide the Applicant with a copy of the CORI;
(3) Notify him or her of the part or parts which appear to make him or her ineligible;
(4) Afford the Applicant with an opportunity for a private meeting to explain the accuracy and/or relevance of anything on the CORI report;
(5) Review the relevancy and accuracy of the CORI report by considering these factors:
(i) Nature, seriousness and circumstance of any past criminal conviction or pending charge;
(ii) Age of the candidate at the time of the offense;
(iii) Date of the offense;
(iv) Relevance of the offense to the duties and qualifications of the position in question;
(v) Sentence imposed and length of any period of incarceration;
(vi) Any reasonable available information concerning compliance with conditions of parole or probation, including orders of no contact with victim and witnesses;
(vii) The individual’s conduct and experience in the time since the offense, including, but not limited to, education or professional certification obtained since the time of the offense;
(viii) Any other evidence of rehabilitation.
(f) If after review the recipient makes an adverse decision, it will promptly notify the Applicant in writing stating the reasons thereof.
(g) If a grantee determines that a CORI report received does not pertain to the individual for whom a request was made, it will notify the Applicant of DCJIS’s regulations and process for correcting an inaccurate record, and will not rely on such a record in rendering an adverse decision. The grantee may contact DCJIS and request that it conduct a detailed search consistent with DCJIS’s policy.
(h) The grantee will provide a copy of its CORI standards to any Applicant or person who makes a request.
(i) The grantee, consistent with DCJIS policy, will not disseminate or share CORI information except with those authorized personnel granted access to CORI.
Petitioners: James J. O'Day, Carlos Henriquez