Capitol Insider: Latest News on Food Insecurity Policy & Advocacy (February 2022)

Capitol Insider: Latest News on Food Insecurity Policy & Advocacy

by Jessica Dietrich, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy

February 23, 2022

2022 Legislative Session

Legislative session is now underway, with both chambers primarily focused on committee work through March 3. Legislators requested a total of 3,019 bills ahead of this legislative session. New bill requests, combined with carryover bills from the 2021 legislative session, means there are roughly 5,500 bills that are available for consideration. About 19% of bills filed ultimately make it to the Governor’s desk for consideration. Our full tracking list is extensive – in lieu of posting a long list of bill numbers, we are highlighting just some of the legislation moving through the process at this time.

  • HB3416 and HB3417 (Rep. Pae) – Creates and provides funding for a Hunger-free Campus Grant Pilot Program providing matching funds for two- and four-year colleges within the pilot to implement additional hunger interventions on their campuses and track outcomes.
  • HB3432 (Rep. Kerbs) and SB1624 (Sen. Pugh) – Moves the administration of the Federal Child Nutrition Programs from the Oklahoma State Department of Education to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry.
  • HB3621 (Rep. Virgin) – Gradually removes the state sales tax assessment on most groceries.*
  • SB1495 (Pro Tem. Treat, Speaker McCall) – Removes the state sales tax assessment on most groceries.*
  • SB394 (Sen. Coleman, Rep. Talley) – Increases the auto equity exemption for TANF from $5,000 to $10,000.

We will continue to provide updates throughout the legislative session. If there is a bill that you have questions about, or if there is a bill you would like to highlight for us, please reach out to Jessica Dietrich (jessica.dietrich@hungerfreeok.org).

*There are a number of bills that have been filed to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries (local governments will maintain their sales tax on groceries). The two listed here were filed by different members of legislative leadership and serve as examples of the legislation that is under consideration.

 

Federal Budget Reconciliation Update

The federal budget is still under consideration. A stopgap measure passed last week gives congress until March 11 to pass the federal budget. This ongoing debate is partially a result of the fallout from the Build Back Better social spending package not moving forward. Some portions of the Build Back Better plan could become part of other packages Congress takes up, including the budget. Additionally, the federal budget could include an extension of the USDA’s authority to issue many of the child nutrition program waivers that are reducing red tape and other administrative burdens on program providers due to the ongoing and constantly evolving pandemic and supply chain issues. We will continue to track this closely.

 

Letter to Help Connect College Students to Assistance Programs

In late January, James Kvaal, Under Secretary at the United States Department of Education, explained how Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) data can be used to help inform students of benefits and opportunities that may be available to them through this letter. The letter clarifies that institutions of higher education can, in certain circumstances, use data students have already provided to help them understand their SNAP eligibility and help connect them to benefits.

 

P-EBT Deadline Approaching

If your child received virtual instruction in 2020-21 and you believe your child is eligible and you have not yet received a P-EBT card or believe the amount on the card is incorrect, please fill out the review form on OSDE’s page by February 28, 2022.

 

ARPA

Oklahoma has launched a website to stay up to date on the latest information on the state portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Included on the site is an opportunity for Oklahomans to formally or informally weigh in on how these funds should be used. Organizations may submit a detailed response to the project questionnaire, which is intended to be used for specific projects. There is also an idea questionnaire available for Oklahomans to provide input on how the funds should be used, without the need to propose a fully-planned project. Visit the state ARPA website here.

 

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