May 3, 2019

Recent articles

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.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Our Lucky 13: Thanks for a GREAT session!

by | May 3, 2019

The 2019 Colorado legislative session was a banner year for legislation that advances economic justice. Colorado Center on Law and Policy led or helped develop 13 bills throughout the session and we’re happy to say that all of them were approved by legislators with bipartisan support.

Here’s the complete list of legislation that we led or helped develop that has been passed and sent to Gov. Jared Polis to be signed into law:

House Bill 1004 will 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. Thanks to Rep. Dylan Roberts and Rep. Marc Catlin for sponsoring HB 1104 in the House and to Sen. Kerry Donovan for shepherding it through the Senate.

HB 1013 will extend Colorado’s child care tax credit for households earning less than $25,000 to 2028. The tax credit is essential in defraying the cost of child care, which is consistently one of the highest-ticket basic needs for working families, according to CCLP’s Self-Sufficiency Standard report. Child care is essential to employment, which in turn is essential to reducing poverty. Thanks to Rep. Tony Exum and Sen. Brittany Pettersen for sponsoring this important bill.

HB 1025 prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history on an initial employment application – giving more Coloradans a chance to secure a job, earn an income and get on with their lives. When HB 1025 is signed by the Governor, Colorado will join 11 other states with a “ban the box” law on the books for the private sector. Thanks to Reps. Leslie Herod and Jovan Melton and Sens. Mike Foote and Robert Rodriguez for sponsoring this bill and getting it to the Governor’s desk! Learn more about CCLP’s role in developing the legislation in this blog posting.

HB 1107 appropriates $750,000 to establish a three-year pilot program to provide funds to community-based organizations that work with people trying to get into the workforce or improve their skills to get a better-paying job. This bill will help low-income workers with small-dollar emergencies that prevent them from continuing or starting work. Thank you to Rep. James Coleman for his incredible work in the House, and Sen. Rhonda Fields and Sen. Kevin Priola for their Senate leadership. Kudos are also due to the dozens of organizations and individuals who helped develop and support this innovative legislation.

HB 1118 will give families the chance to avoid eviction or find other housing by extending the eviction notification period from three to 10 days. Thanks to Reps. Dominique Jackson and Rochelle Galindo for their work in sponsoring the bill in the House for Sen. Angela Williams for guiding it through the Senate. A special thank you is owed to our partners at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless for their tireless work in support of this legislation.

HB 1189 will reform the state’s wage-garnishment laws by requiring clearer and more-timely notice of garnishment. The bill also will reduce the amount subject to garnishment to help people meet household needs while paying their debts. Furthermore, HB 1189 creates a general hardship exemption that allows garnishment to be further reduced – or eliminated altogether – in certain circumstances. Getting a bill like this passed through fierce opposition was a heroic feat, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Connelly, a volunteer and retired attorney, for making it happen. Thanks are also due to Reps. Matt Gary and Alex Valdez as well as Sens. Jeff Bridges and Rhonda Fields.

HB 1223 will help Coloradans with disabilities apply for financial assistance from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. Thanks Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Rep. Colin Larsen and Sen. Faith Winter for sponsoring. Learn more about the bill in this op-ed from CCLP’s Allison Neswood.

HB 1239 creates a grant program within the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which will be awarded to local governments and nonprofits throughout the state to increase outreach efforts for the U.S. Census – ensuring that every Coloradan counts and that the state receives adequate federal funding. CCLP worked with a coalition of partners on this legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Kerry Tipper, Rep. Yidera Caraveo, Sen. Kevin Priola and Sen. Faith Winter.

HB 1275 will make records for nonviolent convictions eligible for sealing and unavailable to the public —  removing a barrier for many Coloradans seeking employment and housing. Thanks Rep. Mike Weissman Rep. Matt Soper and Sen. Pete Lee for sponsoring HB 1275.

HB 1309 will revise Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act and make progress towards leveling the playing field for homeowners residing on rented lots. Thank you Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Sen. Pete Lee, Rep. Edie Hooton, and Rep. Julie McCluskie for sponsoring this bill.

HB 1320 is designed to increase the transparency of community benefit investments by nonprofit hospitals so the communities they serve can ensure they invest in activities that improve health outcomes in their communities. Thanks Rep. Chris Kennedy, Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Faith Winter for sponsoring HB 1320.

HB 1322 will increase the supply of affordable housing by investing $30 million a year for three years into the Housing Development Grant Fund without using taxpayer dollars. CCLP’s Claire Levy worked hard on the legislation over several years and authored this commentary to Colorado Politics regarding the bill. CCLP received significant help from Counties and Commissioners Acting Together (CCAT). Thanks Rep. Dylan Roberts, Rep. Perry Will, Sen. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Don Coram for sponsoring.

Finally, Senate Bill 180 will establish a $750,000 legal defense fund to help Coloradans facing eviction. This historic legislation will 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. CCLP is especially thankful to its partners and sponsors Sen. Faith Winter and Rep. Julie McCluskie in supporting this legislation.

CCLP thanks all of the legislators and partners who helped advance our vision of forging pathways from poverty. Together, these bills will make a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans

We look forward to ensuring these bills are implemented effectively and to developing more legislation that will improve the health and well-being of the people in this great state.

Recent articles

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.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

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.