Working to transform the child welfare system.

Legislative

2021 legislative update, week 13

Another whirlwind week! Fiscal cut-off came and went last Friday, April 2nd; the House passed their capital budget on April 2nd and their operating budget on April 3rd; and both the House and Senate kicked off the week with floor action on bills from the opposite house. 

The next cut-off is April 11th, the day, when bills have to be out of the opposite house, unless necessary to implement the budget. While the House and Senate are able to get through a lot of bills, they won’t be able to get to all of them, which means they will be ‘dead’ for this year. Remember; however, bills introduced in the 1st year of the biennium (the odd year) are alive for the duration of the biennium. So, bills considered ‘dead’ at the end of this session can easily come back next year!

With respect to bills we have been tracking related to children, youth, and families, many have moved through the fiscal committees, made it out of Rules, and passed off the floor of the opposite house! 

If a bill is amended in the opposite house (in committee or on the floor), it has to go back to the original house for concurrence. If the original house does not concur with the changes made by the opposite house and if the opposite house doesn’t rescind their changes, then the bill is in dispute. When this happens, the goal is to resolve the differences and bring the bill back to both chambers for a final vote. Quite the process, eh?

What are some of the bills that have made it out of the opposite house? A few of note include:

HB1227 – Keeping Families together

HB1194 – Parent Child Visitation

HB1325 – Children/Youth Behavioral Health

HB1061 – Youth with Developmental Disabilities Leaving the Child Welfare System

HB1236 – Residential Tenant Protections

SB5030 – School Counselors

SB5151 – Foster and Child Care Licenses

SB5184 – Foster Care Point of Contact in Schools

SB5214 – Economic Assistance Programs

SB5237 – Fair Start for Kids Act

Regarding the budgets, both include a number of investments in children, youth, and families. A brief budget comparison will be posted separately and a more comprehensive comparison will be posted after the final budget is approved. 

Given that the state was predicted to have a big deficit, it is remarkable that instead of major cuts to services, we are seeing investments, including a TANF grant increase, Medicaid rate increase for behavioral health providers, funding for early learning and child care programs, and more. Stay tuned!

If all goes as planned, there will be two more weekly updates plus an end of session recap!  Truly hard to believe!

Please keep using the Partners for Our Children bill tracker, updated every Friday.