All 252 bills passed by the Indiana General Assembly have been signed by Governor Holcomb, and we are pleased that several on which we worked have become law!
In a budget year, our top priority is to secure additional funding for our member food banks. In 2021, with the pandemic need still on legislators’ radar screen, we were able to increase a long-standing appropriation of $300,000 per year (divided by our eleven member food banks) to $1,000,000 per year. This year, with support from Lt Governor Crouch and Governor Holcomb, we were able to successfully make the case to raise this funding to $2,000,000 per year for the biennial budget (HEA 1001).
We helped pass legislation this year to finally rectify a decade old policy in Indiana of verifying citizenship on the state’s WIC application. In 2011, a broad anti-immigrant bill was passed by the legislature restricting access of human services programs to US citizens. While most programs have federal law that supersedes, the state agency implementing WIC found it unclear and changed WIC policy by adding a self-attestation form to the application. For years, advocates have pushed back that this was not required, that it created a chilling effect (children were often US citizens but the parent applying may not be and may have hesitated to submit their immigration status in writing), and above all contradictory to the purpose of the program and the state’s efforts to curb infant and material mortality. The language to remove this policy ultimately passed the Indiana General Assembly in HEA 1091 (Rep. Ann Vermillion-Marion; Sen. Liz Brown-Ft. Wayne).
Additionally, we worked with partners to pass a broadly supported bill requiring an Elderly Simplified Application Program demonstration project for SNAP, SEA 334 (Sen. Shelli Yoder-Bloomington; Rep. Ed Clere-New Albany). This bill requires the certification process for households made up only of seniors or those with disabilities to be more streamlined and the certification period moved to 36 months to reduce churn and keep these vulnerable Hoosiers connected to SNAP for longer.
We also supported HEA 1160 (Rep. Ed Clere-New Albany; Sen. Jon Ford-Terre Haute), which is primarily a workforce training bill but also contains a pilot program for Education and Career Support Services that includes connections to SNAP and other anti-hunger programs for low income adult college students.
The Indiana General Assembly adjourned sine die (the end of session) early in the morning on Friday, April 28th and won’t return until January. In the meantime, we’ll be working with our federal Congressional delegation to push for strong federal legislation in the Farm Bill, which is taken up every five years and authorizes and sets policy for federal nutrition programs like SNAP, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP, a senior food box program), and other smaller programs.