LIVEWELL COLORADO POLICY UPDATE
MARCH 2018

STATE

As is typical, we have hit the calm before the storm at the Capitol. The bills that LiveWell is engaging in are mostly waiting for the Long Bill (the budget bill) to pass, and once the big decisions about next year’s state budget have been made, other bills will begin to move through the process again. Here’s an update on the pieces of legislation we are working on.

Transportation Infrastructure Funding, Senate Bill 18-001,  sponsored by Senators Randy Baumgardner (R, Hot Sulphur Springs) and John Cooke (R, Greeley) and Representatives Terri Carver (R, Colorado Springs) and Perry Buck (R, Windsor) has passed out of the Senate Transportation, Finance and Appropriations Committees and is now on the Senate floor for further debate. The bill proposes using a significant portion of the newly available state revenue (due to a combination of a strong economy, federal tax reform, and budget relief provided through Senate Bill 17-267), for transportation funding. Specifically, the bill will ask voters to approve the issuance bonds to be used to fund the expansion of Interstate 25 between Denver and Fort Collins, expand Interstate 70 through the mountain corridor, improve major rural roadways and cover the cost of all “Tier 1” (high priority) projects identified by CDOT. The proposal is aimed almost exclusively at roads and bridges and does not address the more comprehensive transportation quagmire the state faces, including the multi-modal needs for which LiveWell advocates.

Transportation Ballot Initiative

As we have mentioned in previous updates, the coalition of transportation advocates that led the charge to pass House Bill 17-1242 last year has been working the past several months writing an initiated measure (a ballot question to change Colorado law initiated by an individual or group rather than placed on the ballot by the General Assembly) to go before voters in November. Under the leadership of the Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Contractors Association, four ballot titles have been filed, and later this month, the decision will be made on which option to place on the ballot. The distribution formula under the four options is essentially the same, 45 percent to CDOT, 20 percent to municipalities, 20 percent to counties, and 15 percent to multi-modal. The amount of sales tax increase is the variable, either a .5 percent, .62 percent, 1 percent sales tax increase only, or a .5 percent along with a $150 million General Fund transfer.

We will continue to engage in both SB 18-001 and the ballot initiatives as well as any other transportation funding related bills that may be introduced in the second half of the legislative session. At this point we prefer the ballot initiative approach, as it contains funding for multimodal options. However, complimentary legislation passed by the General Assembly could also be beneficial to the overall transportation system.

Restrictions on Discount Fare Programs Offered by the Regional Transportation District (RTD), Senate Bill 18-204, sponsored by Tim Neville (R, Littleton) and Representative Kimmi Lewis (R, Las Animas) is a bill newly introduced since last month’s policy update. The bill would place restrictions on RTD to offer discount fare programs without a vote of the General Assembly. The bill will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee on March 20th. LiveWell opposes the legislation as it restricts the ability of RTD to offer discount fares.

Red Light and Photo Radar Camera Repeal, House Bill 18-1072, sponsored by Representative Stephen Humphrey (R, Severance) and Senator Tim Neville (R, Littleton), is a bill LiveWell opposed as it would have banned the use of photo radar and red light cameras in Colorado. The bill was defeated by the House Transportation Committee on February 14th.

Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act, Senate Bill 18-013, sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields (D, Aurora) and Bob Gardner (R, Colorado Springs) and Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D, Commerce City) is a bill to increase state funding to cover the $0.40 co-pay that kids who receive reduced-price school lunches must pay in grades six through eight. LiveWell supports this legislation. Senate Bill 013 passed the Senate Education Committee in January 25th on a 5-2 vote. The bill continues to wait for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council (COFSAC), House Bill 18-1236, sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan (D, Durango) and Jon Becker (R, Fort Morgan), continues COFSAC, which is sun-setting this year. Ensuring the continuation of Colorado’s statewide policy council has been and remains a priority of LiveWell’s, particularly now as the momentum around continuing to develop Colorado’s food system seems to be on the rise. When a Council sunsets, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) conducts a review of the Council and makes recommendations regarding its future. For COFSAC, DORA recommended that it continue. Additionally, when the bill was heard in the House Agriculture committee, LiveWell testified in support of the bill, and with the permission of the sponsors, amended the bill to combine COFSAC with the existing Farm to School Task Force as well as providing some direction on areas of focus, including supporting the implementation of the recommendations from 2017’s Blueprint of Food and Agriculture. The bill passed in House Agriculture on an 11-2 vote and is awaiting a hearing in House Appropriations.

To read the DORA sunset review, click here.

For more information on the Colorado Blueprint of Food and Agriculture, click here.

Healthy Food Incentives

LiveWell is seeking $200,000 in incentive funding from the Colorado state general fund. If approved, this funding would be used as matching incentives for the purchase of Colorado grown healthy food. The incentives could be used in the Double Up Food Bucks program, fruit and vegetable prescription programs, and other healthy food incentive programs that may arise. This effort is occurring through the state budget process and by the next update in April we should know whether or not it has been successful.

For more information about DUFB, click here.

Utilizing Reclaimed Water for Edible Crops, House Bill 18-1093, sponsored by Representative Jeni Arndt (D, Fort Collins) and Senator Don Coram (R, Montrose) seeks to ensure that Colorado can follow in the footsteps of other countries and states in water conservation practices by allowing reclaimed domestic wastewater to be used for edible crops. Reclaimed domestic wastewater is water that has been treated for reuse other than drinking. The bill defines three categories of water quality standards and defines what uses are available for each category. LiveWell testified in support of this bill, an effort of Denver Urban Gardens, in the House, which it has now passed. This bill will be heard later this week in the Senate Agriculture committee where LiveWell will again support our partners with testimony.

Agriculture Workforce Development Program, Senate Bill 18-042, sponsored by Senators Kerry Donovan (D, Vail) and Larry Crowder (R, Alamosa) and Representatives Marc Catlin (R, Montrose) and Barbara McLachlan (D, Durango) is a product of the Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee. The bill requires the Department of Agriculture to create a program where agricultural businesses can be reimbursed up to 50% of their costs for hiring an intern for up to six months. We support this effort to help expose young and beginning farmers to experienced farmers who will provide essential hands-on education to the next generation of farmers.

FEDERAL

Farm Bill

While in the last update we said that all signs point to the U.S. House of Representatives having a written Farm Bill by the end of March, it turns out all the signs were wrong. It is now expected that the House Agriculture committee will have a Farm Bill for public consumption sometime in April when Congress returns from their break. We still expect that the House version will not be particularly friendly to SNAP and other identified priorities, so we are working with our state and national partners to ensure Colorado’s delegation hears the reaction from a collective voice around these issues.

 

LiveWell Colorado Legislation Tracking list

Colorado State Legislature: Colorado General Assembly Website

The letters HB indicates the bill began in the House of Representatives. The letters SB indicates the bill began in the Senate. All bills must go through both the House and Senate before they can become law.

 

HB 1072 – Red Light and Photo Radar Camera Repeal; Rep. Humphrey (R), Sen. T. Neville (R)

Eliminates cameras for use in traffic enforcement.

Postponed Indefinitely

LWC position: Oppose

 

HB 1093 – Reclaimed Water for Edible Crops; Rep. Arndt (D), Sen. Coram (R)

Defines categories of water quality standards and adds edible crop irrigation as an allowable use for reclaimed domestic wastewater.

Passed House; Hearing in Senate Agriculture March 22nd

LWC position: Support

HB 1236 – Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council (COFSAC); Reps. McLachlan (D) and Becker (R)

Sunset bill that recommends the continuation of COFSAC and combines COFSAC with the Farm to School Task Force. The bill will also provide staffing for COFSAC in the Department of Agriculture.

Passed House Agriculture, awaiting hearing in House Appropriations

LWC position: Support

 

SB 001Transportation Infrastructure Funding; Sens. Cooke (R) and Baumgardner (R), and Reps. Carver (R) and Buck (R)

Provides state funding for transportation infrastructure, largely limited to roads and bridges.

Senate Second Reading

LWC position: Oppose

 

SB 013School Lunch Protection Act; Sens. Fields (D) and Gardner (R), and Rep. Michaelson Jenet (D)

Expands state funding for reduced priced lunch through eighth grade.

Passed Senate Education, awaiting hearing in Senate Appropriations

LWC position: Support

 

SB 042Agricultural Workforce Development Program; Sens. Crowder (R) and Donovan (D), and Reps. McLachlan (D) and Catlin (R)

Creates a program in the Dept. of Agriculture to provide incentives to agricultural businesses to hire interns. This bill resulted from the Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee.

Passed Senate Agriculture, Referred to Senate Appropriations

LWC position: Support

 

SB 204Restrictions on Discount Programs Offered by the Regional Transportation District (RTD); Sen. T. Neville (R), and Rep. Lewis (R)

Places restrictions on RTD to offer discount fare programs without a vote of the General Assembly.        Senate Finance Committee

LWC position: Oppose

 

United States Congress: U.S. Congressional Website

The letters H.R. indicate bills introduced in the House of Representatives. The letter S indicates bills introduced in the Senate. All bills must go through both the House and Senate before they can become law. Congress considers approximately 5,000 bill each year – approximately 4% become law.

 

H.R. 203 – Summer Meals Act of 2017 (Don Young, R-Alaska)

Expands access to Summer Meals program and adds to the types of institutions that can participate in the program. Similar bills were introduced but not enacted in 2013 and 2014.

Assigned to House Education and the Workforce

LWC position: Support

 

H.R. 610 – Federal Fund for School Vouchers and to Repeal a Rule Relating to School Nutrition Standards (Steve King, R-Iowa)

Limits authority of Dept. of Education to block granting money to qualified states. Establishes a voucher program. Repeals established nutrition standards for school lunch and breakfast programs. A similar bill was introduced but not enacted in 2016.

Assigned to House Education and the Workforce

LWC position: Oppose

 

H.R. 952 – Food Donation Act of 2017 (Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio)

Allows food donation to include food beyond its past date. Extends liability protections to stores that sell donated foods to food recovery organizations, provided the cost is equal to or less than administration, handling, and distribution costs. It also extends liability protections to entities that donate food directly to individuals in need.

Assigned to House Education and the Workforce

LWC position: Support

 

H.R. 1276Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2017 (Alma Adams, D-North Carolina)

Expands food stamp benefits. Revises the calculation for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be based on a low-cost food plan, accounting for how much working people spend on food. Contains other provisions, including the ability to exempt able-bodied adults from work requirements if no available slot exists in the SNAP Employment and Training Program.

Assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Nutrition

LWC position: Support

 

H.R. 1760 – Eliminate Agriculture Secretary’s Authority to Grant a Work Waiver in the SNAP Program (Glenn Grothman, R-Wisconsin)

Removes the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture to waive work requirements for SNAP recipients in high unemployment or limited employment areas.

Assigned to House Agriculture

LWC position: Oppose

 

H.R. 2382 – Permanent Flexibility for School Meals Act (Kristi Noem, R-South Dakota)

Amends the School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Act to change federal nutrition requirements into nutrition guidelines in both bills.

Assigned to House Education and Workforce

LWC position: Oppose

 

H.R. 3687 – Farm to School Act of 2017 (Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE; Marcia Fudge, D-OH)

Reauthorizes the Farm to School Act and expands funding for the grant program from $5 million to $15 million. Ensures the inclusion of early care and education sites, summer food service sites, after care program sites and tribal schools and producers. Focuses on increasing participation among beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Assigned to House Education and Workforce

LWC position: Actively Support

 

Companion Bill: S. 1767 – Farm to School Act of 2017 (Patrick Leahy, D-VT; Thad Cochran, R-MS)

Reauthorizes the Farm to School Act and expands funding for the grant program from $5 million to $15 million. Ensures the inclusion of early care and education sites, summer food service sites, after care program sites and tribal schools and producers. Focuses on increasing participation among beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Assigned to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

LWC position: Actively Support

 

H.R. 3941 – Local FARMS Act (Chellie Pingree, D-ME; Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE; Sean Maloney, D-NY)

Creates comprehensive programs and funding opportunities to: help farmers reach new markets through outreach, cost-share, and technical assistance programs; increase access to fresh, healthy, local food among low-income groups and communities in need; and develop new and strengthen existing infrastructure that connects producers to consumers.

Assigned to House Agriculture and House Education and Workforce

LWC position: Actively Support

 

Companion Bill: S. 1947 – Local FARMS Act (Sherrod Brown, D-OH, Susan Collins, R-ME)

Creates comprehensive programs and funding opportunities to: help farmers reach new markets through outreach, cost-share, and technical assistance programs; increase access to fresh, healthy, local food among low-income groups and communities in need; and develop new and strengthen existing infrastructure that connects producers to consumers.

Assigned to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

LWC position: Actively Support

 

  1. 1034 – Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017 (Dianne Feinstein, D-CA; Michael Bennet, D-CO)

Creates a “blue card” status for certain agricultural workers which protects them from deportation, allows them to travel outside the US and return, and provides a path to lawful permanent residency. It also protects agricultural employers of eligible farmworkers from civil penalties for previously hiring undocumented workers.

Assigned to Senate Judiciary

LWC position: Support

 

  1. 1064 – Amend the National School Lunch Act to Prohibit the Stigmatization of Children Who Are Unable to Pay for Meals (Tom Udall, D-NM

Pertains to students who participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program and are unable to pay for a meal at school.  Prohibits the public identification or stigmatization of the child including hand-stamping or wristbands, making the child perform chores, or removal of served food from the child. Requires school officials to discuss payment with parent or guardian and not the child. The bill also expresses the sense of Congress on several issues regarding the administration of school meal programs.

Assigned to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

LWC position: Support

 

Companion Bill: H.R. 2401 – Amend the National School Lunch Act to Prohibit the Stigmatization of Children Who Are Unable to Pay for Meals (Michelle Grisham, D-NM)

Prohibits the public identification, performance of chores, removal of served food from the child, or any other discriminatory treatment of children by schools for an inability to pay for school breakfast or lunch due to lack of funds or existing debt. Requires school officials discuss payment with parent or guardian and not the child.

Assigned to House Education and the Workforce

LWC position: Support

 

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