Legislative Update: First Funnel

This week marked an important point in the 2022 Iowa Legislative Session: first funnel. Any non-budgetary bills that have not been voted out of a House or Senate committee by this point are effectively dead (with some exceptions).

On Monday, February 14, a subcommittee meeting was held for HSB 698. This was a re-combined bill that included many of the proposed bills concerning public assistance programs we saw introduced at the start of the session.

Thanks to the hard work of advocates like you, the proposed asset limit for SNAP was not included in HSB 698. This would have been incredibly harmful. However, there were still a few pieces of the bill, such as requiring custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit or lose access to SNAP benefits, that were still problematic. Despite these concerns from advocates, HSB 698 was voted out of subcommittee on Monday on a party-line 2-1 vote.

Then, the next morning of Tuesday, February 15, HSB 698 was already on the agenda for consideration before the full House Human Resources Committee. After some discussion, an amendment to tighten the timeline for implementation, and Democrats voicing their concerns with the bill, HSB 698 was voted out of committee on a 13-8 party-line vote.

Now that this is no longer a “study bill,” it has been renamed as House File 2438. It now is eligible for debate and a vote on the floor of the full House of Representatives. Please contact your Representative and let them know you do not support HF 2438.

While we are disappointed to see this bill advance past the first funnel, we do want to praise the work of advocates in stopping the proposed asset limit for SNAP.
Give yourself a pat on the back – we don’t get to celebrate our wins often enough.

And the fight isn’t over yet – if HF 2438 does pass the House, it will move to the Senate, and we will need to make sure there are no attempts to re-introduce some of the incredibly harmful policy proposals that we stopped in the House.

Thank you for all you have done, and will continue to do, in the fight to end hunger and food insecurity in Iowa.

Legislative Update: Week 5

Revised SNAP Bill Introduced in the House

House Study Bill 698 was introduced by Rep. Ann Meyer on Wednesday, February 9. This bill combines the multiple SNAP bills that were introduced this session into a single bill. Thankfully, some of the more harmful provisions, including the asset limit for SNAP, have been removed. However, there are still a few concerning pieces, namely a requirement for custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit or lose access to SNAP benefits.

There is not a way to implement this provision that does not result in taking food away from children.

Section 5 of the bill requires custodial parents to cooperate with child support recovery or lose access to SNAP benefits. By definition, custodial parents have children in the household under their care. When parents lose SNAP benefits for non-cooperation, it impacts the nutrition and food security of both parents and children by reducing the household’s overall food budget.

There is little evidence that this type of policy is successful in generating substantially more in child support payments to families. There would also be a significant cost to the state of Iowa to implement this provision, with no projected savings to the state.

Case study: North Carolina adopted a similar cooperation requirement for custodial parents on SNAP, and found it to be highly inefficient. It cost the state $2 million to implement, but only led to a total of about $7,000 in child support payments to 12 families over a year, or only about $50 a month.

A subcommittee meeting for HSB 698 has been scheduled for Monday, February 14, at 11:30am in Room 304.1. You can watch the subcommittee meeting online, but cannot testify on the bill remotely.

Please contact the members of the subcommittee for HSB 698 below and ask them to remove Section 5 (child support cooperation for custodial parents) from the bill.

Rep. Tom Jeneary, tom.jeneary@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Ann Meyer, ann.meyer@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Kristin Sunde, kristin.sunde@legis.iowa.gov

You can also submit a public comment for HSB 698 online, but we do recommend you also contact the subcommittee members above directly.

SNAP Emergency Allotments Expiring

Last Thursday, February 3, Governor Reynolds announced the Public Health Declaration will expire on Tuesday, February 15, at 11:59pm. As a result, the state of Iowa will no longer be able to access Emergency Allotments for SNAP through the USDA, which have been providing the maximum allowable benefit to SNAP households. This week, DHS confirmed that March will be the last month that Emergency Allotments will be issued.

Iowa SNAP recipients will see a big drop in their monthly benefit amounts in April. As shown in the graph from USDA below, the average monthly benefit will drop from $251 to $169 per person. This estimate is based on national data, and based on previous trends and data, Iowa’s average monthly benefit will likely be a bit smaller than $169. Some households will see a greater impact from this than others. For instance, a single individual receiving the minimum benefit will see their benefits drop from $250 to $20 per month.

Thank you for your continued advocacy.