Apr 19, 2019

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CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

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CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

Legislative Update – April 19, 2019

by | Apr 19, 2019

Bill to Watch: HB 1322
A recent poll from our partners at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, shows that voters think affordable housing is an urgent matter on a number of fronts. Fortunately, state legislators will have an opportunity to consider two measures this session that will help relieve the housing crisis without increasing taxes or reducing spending on other priorities.

Developed by Colorado Center on Law and Policy with feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, House Bill 1322 would invest $40 million a year for seven years into the Housing Development Grant Fund, which provides grants and loans for a range of needs, including acquisition, renovation and construction of affordable housing. In addition, the funds could finance down-payment assistance and support home-ownership. It would also help keep mobile homes livable and provide rental assistance for a range of populations.

The fund is administered by the Colorado Division of Housing. HB 1322 requires the Division to consult with stakeholders from urban and rural communities so that the additional funds provided under the bill address a variety of needs throughout the state. Funding will come from the unclaimed property trust fund: a sustainable source of revenue that’s been used to pay for dental benefits for adult Medicaid recipients. The unclaimed property fund consists of dormant bank accounts, securities and life insurance proceeds and the like. While Colorado’s State Treasurer makes a tremendous effort to reunite people with money they forgot or didn’t know they had, there are hundreds of millions of dollars in the fund that remain unclaimed every year. HB 1322 would put a fraction of that money to good use addressing a real problem in Colorado.

Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, Rep. Perry Will, Sen. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Don Coram, HB 1322 was approved Wednesday by the House Finance Committee on a bi-partisan vote of 9-2  and will go to the Appropriations Committee soon. Learn more in this advocacy alert. Also, contact your state Representative and Senator and ask them to support this important bill.

CCLP also supports HB 1245, which would increase funding for affordable housing by imposing a cap on the amount of sales tax revenue Colorado’s largest retailers can keep as their “fee” for collecting the tax. The additional revenue would be transferred to the same fund within the Department of Local Affairs, and also would be used to improve, preserve or expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado. The change in how the vendor fee is administered would result in roughly $23 million being invested in housing across Colorado in the first year and $45 million to $50 million per year thereafter.

Both HB 1322 and HB 1245 address the affordable housing problem in targeted and creative ways with no implications to taxpayers or other budget priorities. Both measures deserve consideration and support from constituents and state legislators. Together, these bills could help thousands of Coloradans better afford a home and let them devote more of their hard-earned money to other essential needs.

On the Radar
This week was another busy one for CCLP-led legislation. Among the developments:

* Last Friday, the Colorado Senate approved legislation that would prohibit most private-sector employers from asking about criminal history on initial job applications. If signed by the governor, House Bill 1025 would remove a barrier that has prevented Coloradans from getting on with their lives. CCLP tilled the ground for this bill by developing two previous iterations and built support for “ban the box” legislation in 2016 and 2017. But the impetus for the work goes back years earlier. Learn how we made it happen in this blog posting.

* On Monday, the House Finance Committee approved HB 1309, which would revise Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act to level the playing field for homeowners residing on rented lots. The bill passed both House Appropriations Committee and second reading on Friday.

* On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 180, which would establish a $750,000 legal defense fund to help Coloradans facing eviction. With homelessness on the rise in Colorado, this historic legislation would help prevent homelessness before it occurs. But SB 180 also represents a big step in repairing the many disparities individuals with low wages encounter under our legal system.

* Also on Tuesday, the House passed HB 1013, which would extend Colorado’s child care tax credit for households earning less than $25,000 through tax-year 2028. HB 1013 was approved by a 58-5 vote! The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

* On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB 1189 by a 5-2 vote. The bill, which now goes to the Senate floor, would reform the state’s wage-garnishment laws by requiring clearer and more-timely notice of garnishment. The bill also would reduce the amount subject to garnishment to help people meet household needs while paying their debts. Furthermore, HB 1189 would create a general hardship exemption that would allow for garnishment to be further reduced – or eliminated altogether – in certain circumstances. The bill passed on its second reading on Friday morning.

* On Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to HB 1004, which would task Colorado’s department of Health Care Policy and Finance and the Division of Insurance with developing an insurance plan that would leverage state infrastructure to provide affordable, quality health care and increase competition in the individual market – particularly helping those who live in high-cost areas of the state. The bill passed by a 19-16 vote.

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.