In the recent address to Congress by President Obama unveiling a new jobs bill, there was specific mention of addressing the need to extend unemployment benefits. The federal government has come to recognize the necessity of insuring that millions of Americans are not left disenfranchised in saving personal property, assurance of family stability and maintenance of the consumer economy, but the State of Maryland has remained indifferent and unresponsive to needs of its unemployed.
I like hundreds of Maryland voters have petitioned the state legislature to review and revise Maryland’s callous policy of denying its unemployed extensions beyond 48 weeks and, to date, there has been a deafening silence on the issue. Not to be stifled by the inaction or non-response, this voter petitioned the governor’s office and Sens. Mikulski and Cardin’s offices as well.
Gov. O’Malley’s office referred my questions and comments to the [Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation] on more than one occasion, where the response was that this is a matter for the state legislature. Sen. Mikulski’s office sent a pro forma reply again citing the state legislature. Ben Cardin was non-responsive, which has become his office’s standard response.
Whatever the President and Congress ultimately agree upon will not help or bring any hope to the thousands of Maryland residents who have joined the ranks of the unemployed beginning back in 2009. Being unemployed in Maryland is no different from being unemployed in states that have 99 week programs other than the fact that they were proactive and have passed on extensions from Congress through legislative courage and responsiveness to the plight of their constituents. Maryland can make no such claim.
Come next state legislative election make your voices heard. What the state legislature has done to its citizens who have suffered the loss and indignity of being unemployed, unable to meet their financial obligations and the loss of residences and property is unconscionable. We will not forget, not now, not tomorrow or anytime in the foreseeable future. Maryland’s inaction and callous disregard of its unemployed will be remembered by the next generation of voters as well. My advice to the current group of legislator’s is: don’t get too comfortable in your seat.