CCLP FAMILY ECONOMIC SECURITY PROGRAM’S 2012 LEGISLATIVE SESSION REVIEW
This legislative session CCLP’s Family Economic Security Program (FESP) spent a lot of time playing defense to protect critical programs and hard-won advances addressing the ability of low-income Colorado families to sustain themselves. But we did not do it alone. Absent the spirit of collaboration, there would have been fewer victories for policies that lift up, support and provide a clear path to a better future for us all. The 2012 session saw a few concrete advances and provided other opportunities for building public awareness, promoting economic equity and connecting the dots between the personal and the political. FESP, with our allies, works to debunk misguided notions of poverty. This session put us to the test.
Changing the Conversation around Poverty and Economic Self-Sufficiency
HB12-1046, Drug Testing for Colorado Works Applicants (Rep. Sonnenberg/Sen. Brophy), failed. This proposal required persons applying for assistance through the Colorado Works program to take, pay for, and pass a drug test prior to receiving assistance. CCLP, the All Families Deserve a Chance Coalition, a variety of county representatives and other human service allies used the bill to educate General Assembly members regarding the myths about who receives public assistance before successfully defeating it.
SB12-022, Concerning Maintaining Child Care Assistance for Working Families (Sen. Williams, S./Rep. Massey), passed. This legislation is designed to mitigate the "cliff effect" in child care. The policy intent is to allow parents to maintain eligibility in the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program for two years after an increase in income that would otherwise have rendered them ineligible. The legislation creates a pilot project in which counties can re-allocate funding to help defray families’ child care costs as they transition from assistance to self-sufficiency. CCLP, with members of the Women's Family Action Network, County Commissioners Inc., and the Arapahoe Early Childhood Council, assisted in the drafting of the legislation, which was designed by the Bell Policy Center. Its passage is a foundational success for economic self-sufficiency advocates seeking to reduce the impact losing public assistance has on low-income Colorado families.
HB12-1138, Poverty Impact Statements (Rep. Kefalas/Sen. Hudak), died. The bill would have allowed a legislator to request a poverty impact statement for a bill with a potential impact on child, individual or family poverty. CCLP and the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force promoted the bill but it did not survive the House Committee on State Affairs.
HB12-1152, Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force (Rep. Kefalas/Sen. Boyd), also failed. It would have clarified the operating guidelines for the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force and was specifically designed to promote the status of the task force as an official interim committee of the legislature. CCLP and the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force urged passage of the bill, but it died in house committee.
Addressing Barriers to Employment
HB12-1061, The Skills for Jobs Act (Rep. Kagan/Sen. Newell), was a success. The legislation requires the Department of Higher Education, in consultation with the Departments of Labor and Regulatory Agencies, to produce an annual report projecting state workforce needs for the upcoming three years, the production of educational credentials by institutions of higher education and other vocational education providers over the same time period and gaps between the two. The report is designed to inform the planning of higher education curricula. This legislation was a product of the SkillBuild Colorado coalition, of which CCLP was a member and whose work CCLP will lead this year. The Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force promoted the bill. Its success illustrates the need for collaboration between state departments and the impact a shared agenda could have on the lives of Colorado workers seeking increased training and long term economic security.
HB12-1134, Prohibit Job Discrimination against the Unemployed (Rep. Pabon), was a casualty. The proposed legislation would have prohibited employers from advertising for any job vacancy that included a requirement for applicants to be currently employed. CCLP testified on the discriminatory consequences of this practice and the barrier the legislation would remove for Colorado job seekers. The bill was defeated in the House Committee on Economic and Business Development.
SB12-003, Use of Consumer Credit by Employers (Sen. Carroll/Rep. Fischer), was also an unfortunate loss. The proposed legislation would have prohibited an employer or prospective employer's use of credit information if unrelated to the job. CCLP joined with CoPIRG, the lead advocacy group, in supporting this legislation. The bill passed the Senate but not the House. In the course of consideration, however, the General Assembly became more familiar with how credit scores can be used as barriers to employment and economic self-sufficiency.
SB12-139, Coordination of Work Support (Sen. Boyd/Rep. Fields and Rep Summers), was unsuccessful. The bill would have created a funding approach for innovative strategies addressing the cliff effect in the Colorado Works assistance program. CCLP was the lead advocacy organization in support of this bill, which did not survive the House Committee on State Affairs.