Today, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bethany Pray provided testimony for Senate Bill 24-093, Continuity of Health-Care Coverage Change. CCLP is in support of SB24-093.
CCLP Policy Fellow, Milena Castañeda testified at the Medical Services Board meeting regarding emergency rules for the NEMT.
Chaer Robert provided testimony against House Bill 24-1065, Reduction of State Income Taxes. CCLP is in opposition of HB24-1065.
The Importance of Funding SNAP E&T
In the United States, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance to individuals and households experiencing food insecurity. An additional component of SNAP includes the option for eligible participants to pursue employment and training opportunities, through a program called SNAP E&T. In Colorado, this particular program is called Employment First.
Coloradans whose gross incomes are below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and whose incomes are below 100% of FPL after deducting eligible housing, food, and childcare expenses, are eligible to receive SNAP. For example, an individual earning less than $1,064 per month after deducting eligible expenses may qualify for and receive SNAP benefits.
The Employment First program is designed to prepare SNAP recipients for meaningful employment through work-related education, training activities, and work-based learning opportunities, along with job placement assistance and guidance. The program also offers additional support services when funding is available.
Able-bodied adults without dependents have historically been required to work a certain number of hours per week as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits. Such individuals may sign up for Employment First as one option for satisfying work requirements.
Snap E&T history
During the 2021 legislative session, House Bill 1270 was passed, appropriating $3 million to the Employment First Program. Expenses were matched by $3 million from federal funds, resulting in a total of $6 million. The funding provided through HB21-1270 expanded the resources available to Employment First offices and third-party partners across the state. It increased the ability of these organizational partners to offer supportive services necessary for success including tools, work uniforms and clothing, vocational training costs, fingerprinting, transportation assistance, and dental costs, to name a few.
These support services have proven crucial in preparing individuals and families living in poverty to address those immediate needs which often prevent them from pursuing skills training and employment, and thus perpetuate their inability to move forward.
The funding from HB21-1270 also expanded these services to new counties that were not able to provide them in previous years. Currently, 28 counties now offer these services, with the goal of making these opportunities available and accessible to as many of Colorado’s 64 counties as possible.
Fast-forwarding to 2023…
On January 30, Representative Mandy Lindsay and Senator Rhonda Fields introduced House Bill 23-1124, “Funding for Services for Colorado Employment First Participants.” This new bill would sustain funding for Colorado’s SNAP E&T program, albeit at a lower annual level of $1.5 million, to be matched with $1.5 million in federal funds each year. Just as with HB21-1270, Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the Skills2Compete Colorado coalition are actively advocating Colorado’s legislature for the passing of HB23-1124.
As mentioned, Employment First currently serves Coloradans in only 28 of Colorado’s 64 counties. This bill would aim to expand the number of counties that offer these responsive services, as well as increase the capacity of third-party partners in local communities.
The timing of HB23-1124, however, is critical in sustaining this life-changing program. The Public Health Emergency (PHE) is quickly coming to an end, with Colorado’s SNAP benefits scheduled to be reduced in March 2023, and SNAP work requirements (suspended during the PHE) being reinstated in May.
On February 8, the House Committee on Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services passed the bill unanimously without amendments. Next, HB23-1124 faces House Appropriations.
For more information about the core elements of this bill and some of the accomplishments achieved, here are additional resources:
HB23-1124 was postponed indefinitely during the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session.