Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – In these final days of the 2022 legislative session, we are disappointed to see advancement of legislation that has more opportunities for harm than good for the Commonwealth’s children and families, including today’s passage of House Bill 7 by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Safety net programs play a critical role in making sure families struggling to make ends meet can have food to eat, cover basic family needs, and access critical supports and services needed to be healthy. To that end, we appreciate the willingness of House Speaker David Osborne and Speaker Pro Tem David Meade to continue to listen to feedback from stakeholders to minimize unintended consequences of public benefits reforms on children and families across the Commonwealth. In the latest iteration of HB 7, we are glad to see the following updates, including:
- Reduces penalties and removes the chance of a permanent ban from supports
- Directs the legislature, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and third parties to study facets of the current safety net during the interim, such as the feasibility of placing multiple programs on a single EBT card and creating a bridge insurance program for low-income families
- Gives CHFS discretion on where to direct unspent federal funds
- Expands access to farmers’ markets for SNAP beneficiaries
- Removes provisions that would require parents to cooperate with child support enforcement to continue receiving benefits
We still have several questions and concerns as this measure advances to the full Senate for a vote, including:
- Is there an updated fiscal note? Will CHFS have to hire additional staff for implementation?
- How will former foster youth be impacted?
- Does the bill’s committee substitute language indicate that the community engagement program developed by CHFS would be optional, rather than a requirement to maintain Medicaid?
- Are pregnant women and former foster youth exempt from provisions around work requirements and community engagement?
- The Kentucky Workforce Cabinet and Chamber of Commerce already maintain job posting websites – why create a new website over lifting up existing services?
We urge Senate leadership to consider these questions and concerns as HB 7 advances towards a floor vote.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.