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

Capitol Insider: Latest News on Food Insecurity Policy & Advocacy

by Jessica Dietrich, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy

March 23, 2022

2022 Legislative Session

The state legislative session is almost at the halfway point, with the second major deadline this week. There are approximately 1,400 bills (down from about 5,000) still moving through the process following the first committee hearing deadline. About 19% of bills filed ultimately make it to the Governor’s desk for consideration. Below are a few updates on some of the legislation we are closely monitoring.

  • 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.
    • HB3432 – Set on the House Floor Agenda
    • SB1624 – Passed on the Senate Floor, 30 Yea / 14 Nay
  • SB1495 (Pro Tem. Treat, Speaker McCall) – Removes the state sales tax assessment on most groceries.
    • Set on the Senate Floor Agenda
  • SB394 (Sen. Coleman, Rep. Talley) – Increases the auto equity exemption for TANF from $5,000 to $10,000.
    • Eligible to be heard on the House Floor (2021 carryover bill)

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).

 

Fiscal Year 2022 Federal Budget Update

Congress passed the fiscal year 2022 federal budget, funding the federal government through September 30, 2022. Unfortunately, the package did not extend the USDA’s authority to extend child nutrition program waivers and flexibilities that were originally put in place in response to the pandemic (more on this below). The package did include additional funding for many of the federal nutrition programs, including:

  • $140.4 billion in mandatory funding for SNAP. This also includes $998 million for nutrition education and $3 million for previously authorized pilot programs to support Tribal Nations directly purchasing commodities (instead of the USDA).
  • $26.9 billion in funding for child nutrition programs. This also includes $45 million for the Summer EBT program, $30 million for school kitchen equipment grants, and $12 million for farm to school grants.
  • $6 billion in funding for WIC, including $834 million to extend the benefit increase for fruits and vegetables in the WIC package.
  • $966.9 million for Older Americans Act senior nutrition programs.

The bill also notably provided funding for a 2022 White House Conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health. Our executive director, Chris Bernard, raised a request for this convening in his recent testimony before the U.S. House Rules Committee. Hunger Free Oklahoma will continue to engage with elected officials to ensure Oklahoma issues, solutions, and voices are included in this important convening.

 

Child Nutrition Program Waivers

As mentioned above, the USDA’s waiver authority was not extended in the federal budget package. Without further action, this means that many of the waivers that are currently in effect will expire on June 30, 2022. There may be one additional opportunity to extend the USDA’s waiver authority if Congress takes action on additional pandemic relief (which was originally a part of the federal budget bill but removed last minute). Though these waivers were implemented in response to the pandemic, HFO has long advocated for many of these flexibilities, as they allow programs to operate more efficiently and ultimately serve more Oklahoma children. Hunger Free Oklahoma will continue to work with our partners to elevate the importance of these waivers and the need for extension.

 

Federal Public Health Emergency 

The federal public health emergency is currently set to end April 16, 2022. At this time, it is not clear whether or not the public health emergency will be extended. The end of the federal public health emergency will mean several changes to federal nutrition programs. We are tracking this very closely and will keep our partners updated with the latest information.

 

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 March 31, 2022.

 

ARPA

The Oklahoma Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding will close the project request portal on March 31, 2022. Any organizations interested in submitting a proposal should do so before the end of this month. Visit the state ARPA website here.

 

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