As we say goodbye to 2018 and look ahead to 2019, LiveWell’s policy team is gearing up for another legislative session. The Colorado General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, and wraps up on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. As always, it will be a busy 120 days with lots of twists and turns along the way, made a bit more interesting with approximately 33 new legislators and the trifecta of Democrats controlling the governor’s office, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.
It will be a busy session for LiveWell with many pieces of legislation that could impact access to healthy food and to active living. Below are the issues we know of at this point that we will engage on:
- Incentives for Schools Purchasing Colorado Grown Products – This bill will provide a monetary incentive, around .05 cents per meal, along with training and promotion assistance to schools that initiate or increase purchasing of Colorado grown, raised, or processed products for inclusion in their school meal programs. The program not only provides school kids with healthy, Colorado food, but also stimulates the economy by increasing demand for products produced by local growers/producers.
- Farm to Institution Infrastructure: Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council (COFSAC) and Farm to School (FtS) Task Force – Combines COFSAC with the FtS Task Force and provides a staff person to coordinate and support the Council. The purpose of the Council is to grow local, regional, and statewide food economies within which producers have access to new markets and low-income populations have access to fresh, affordable, healthy foods.
- Agriculture Conservation and Resource Areas – The program will assist local producers in developing plans for agriculture conservation and with the promotion and sustainability of regional food production systems
- Beginning Farmer/Rancher Tax Credit – Replaces the existing beginning farmer and rancher tax deduction (applicable for the sale or lease of land, equipment, crops and livestock) with a tax credit.
- Multi-modal Transportation Funding – With the defeat of Proposition 110 in November, it is back to the drawing board regarding transportation funding and in particular multi-modal funding. No details are available at this point but there are many ideas being batted around. It is likely that we will see legislation and to the extent legislators introduce bills that present an opportunity for multi-modal funding, we will engage. We are also keeping tabs on whether regional transportation funding initiatives are brought forth in 2019.
- Extending School Lunch Protection Program through 12th grade – Last year, we were part of a coalition that worked to pass Senate Bill 18-013 which extended state funding to cover the $0.40 co-pay for kids who receive reduced-price school lunches to include grades six through eight (previously the co-pay was only covered through fifth grade). This year we will support the coalition’s effort to extend coverage of the co-pay through 12th grade so that all kids who qualify for reduced-price lunch will receive lunch for free, regardless of whether they are in elementary, middle, or high school.
- Physical Activity (PA) and Physical Education (PE) – We are hearing there may be legislation to require mandatory recess in public schools, as well as legislation to create a grant program to assist schools with costs associated with adopting PE best practices. LiveWell has long supported the inclusion of PA and PE in schools as we value the positive impact movement has on kids’ ability to learn.