The JLD Public Policy Council is the liaison to our membership, the community, and elected officials. The group researches issues affecting the JLD, keeps the League informed on areas of interest, and advises when action is appropriate.
The JLD has a proud history of public policy and advocacy. In 1987, it was the first League in the United States to hire a government affairs specialist Since then the Public Policy Council has worked closely with its government affairs specialist, Aponte & Busam, to monitor, advocate, and support various important pieces of legislation at the State Capitol.
The 2022 legislative session was a busy one for JLD! The JLD Public Policy Council considered 14 unique pieces of legislation, supporting six bills at a Council level and two bills with League-wide support. Every bill the JLD supported in 2022 passed out of the Legislature, with one going to the ballot box this November. The Council considered legislation across six key areas/factors that impact poverty: healthcare system, community/social context, food insecurity, education, neighborhood/physical environment and economic stability. The Council also conducted trainings within the League, and hosted a Day at the Capitol event where JLD members met with 24 legislators through a Legislative Breakfast.
In 2022, JLD voted to give League-wide support to the following bills:
HB22-1295: Department Early Childhood And Universal Preschool Program – PASSED, signed by the Governor on 4/24/22 The bill establishes duties for the Department of Early Childhood (DEC), moves programs to the new department, and creates the new universal preschool program. The latter will provide at least 10 hours of preschool services per week, per child, to all families that want it. Supporters say that this move will save Colorado families over $4,000 a year, on average. This bill was introduced in the House by Speaker Garnett and Representative Sirota and was also sponsored in the Senate by Senators Buckner and Fenberg.
HB22-1055: Sales Tax Exemption Essential Hygiene Products – PASSED The bill exempts period products, infant and child diapers, and adult incontinence items from sales and use taxes starting January 1, 2023. This is a female-led bill, with Representatives Lontine and Herod as the House Sponsors and Senators Winter and Jaquez Lewis from the Senate.
In 2022, the JLD Public Policy Council also supported the following bills:
HB22-1289: Health Benefits For Colorado Children And Pregnant Persons – PASSED This bill makes the key changes to health insurance coverage for low-income pregnant people and children in low-income families. It provides full health insurance coverage for Colorado pregnant people and Colorado children who would be eligible for medicaid and the children’s basic health plan (CHIP) if not for their immigration status. It also requires an outreach/enrollment strategy, provides lactation and perinatal/postpartum support and supplies, creates immediate access for pregnant people and improves the quality of health insurance coverage available through the health insurance affordability enterprise. This bill has been introduced by House Representatives McCluskie and Gonzales-Gutierrez and Senator Moreno. HB22-1364: Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program – PASSED Under current law, the Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program is set to repeal on June 30, 2023. The bill extends the grant program through July 1, 2028. It requires a total of $14.5 million in General Fund appropriations to the grant program over five years. The bill expands the scope of the grant program in three ways.
- It makes hunger-relief charitable organizations eligible to receive grants.
- It allows $100k to be awarded annually to a nonprofit entity to provide technical assistance to a grant recipient for training food pantries and assisting in purchasing Colorado agricultural products.
- It broadens the kinds of agricultural products that may be purchased with grant money to include: products sold by indigenous people in Colorado and neighboring states; products that hold cultural significance for indigenous people; and locally or regionally produced products grown, raised, or processed less than 400 miles away from where the grant recipient is located.
This bill is sponsored by Representatives Cutter and Soper, as well as Senator Story.
HB22-1377: Grant Program Providing Responses To Homelessness – PASSED The bill creates the Connecting Coloradans Experiencing Homelessness with Services, Treatment, and Housing Supports Fund, which is continuously appropriated to DOLA, authorizes DOLA to seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations for the program, and directs the General Assembly to appropriate $105 million to the fund. DOLA may use up to seven percent of the money appropriated or transferred to the fund for administrative costs. This bill is supported by Representatives Exum & Woodrow and Senators Gonzales & Kolker.HB22-1380: Critical Services For Low-income Households – PASSED The bill requires and funds implementation of a new electronic benefit management system in the Department of Human Services (DHS), as well as programming updates for other electronic benefit systems. It also creates a community food access program in the Department of Agriculture (CDA). This bill was introduced by Representatives Gonzales-Gutierrez and Pelton and is supported in the Senate by Senators Coram and Bridges. HB22-1414: Healthy Meals for All Public School Students – PASSED, the bill takes effect only if it is approved by the voters at the November 2022 General Election. This bill creates the Healthy School Meals for All program within the Department of Education to reimburse school food authorities for free meals provided to students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal school meals programs. This bill is sponsored by Representatives Michaelson Jenet and Gonzales-Gutierrez and Senators Pettersen and Fields.
SB22-182: Economic Mobility Program – PASSED The bill creates the economic mobility program within the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), creates the Economic Mobility Program Fund, and transfers $4 million to the fund from the Economic Recovery and Relief Cash Fund. Sponsors are Senators Coram and Hansen alongside Representatives Young, Daugherty and Lindsay from the House.
Full-Day Kindergarten Update
According to the Colorado Department of Education, a total of 61,989 kindergartners enrolled in full-day classes in Colorado’s public schools this fall. It amounts to 11,913 more than the previous year, an increase that can be attributed to legislation that went into effect for the 2019-2020 school year.
House Bill 19-1262 passed in 2019, providing 100% funding for full-day kindergarten. In previous years, the state only paid 58% funding for full-day kindergarten.
Overall, the total increase in preschool through 12th-grade enrollment for Colorado’s public schools grew by only 0.2% from the previous year with 913,223 students being counted this fall, 1,687 more than in 2018-2019. Colorado’s student population has continued to grow over the past 30 years. The last time the state saw a decrease in pupil enrollment was the fall of 1988.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date on full-day kindergarten implementation in Colorado.
We welcome input from the community and all League members. Together we can make an impact on important legislative issues that help improve our Denver metro community.
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