Legislative Update: April 24, 2017

Bill to Watch: HB 1002
In 2014, CCLP championed a successful bill to introduce a child-care tax credit for workers earning less than $25,000 a year with child care expenses. The bill established an alternative calculation method for those who did not qualify for child-care tax credits because they earned too little to owe federal income tax. Since the passage of the bill, over 32,000 families have claimed the credit, providing a total of $4.9 million every year to help defray child care costs for low-income working parents.

With the current law set to expire on Jan. 1, 2018, House Bill 1002, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, would expand this important tax credit for three more income tax years. As the lead organization behind HB 1002, CCLP strongly supports the legislation.

HB 1002 was introduced early this year and identified by Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, as a priority for this session. On Feb. 27, it was approved by the House Finance Committee with a strong bipartisan vote of 12-1. After that strong start, the legislation has waited in the dock for consideration by the House Appropriations Committee as lawmakers hammered out the state budget. With the end of the 2017 session in sight, we are concerned that the delay has led to failure to account in the budget for the $6 million in revenue lost from the tax credit, which may doom the bill.

As of this writing, the legislature has not yet approved the state budget and there is still an opportunity to incorporate funding for HB 1002 into the budget so that hardworking Colorado families can continue to get financial relief from the high cost of child care. Please reach out to legislators and voice your support for HB 1002.

Learn more about the bill in this CCLP fact sheet.

On the Radar: SB 292
Despite Colorado’s low unemployment rate, some single parents still struggle to find employment. They may be hampered by caregiving responsibilities, lack of in-demand job skills, irregular work history, transportation or other challenges to employment.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, or Colorado Works) provides a small monthly stipend of $364 per month for a parent and child. What most families need, however, is a way to get (and keep) a job that could eventually lead to a living wage.

The Joint Budget Committee’s Senate Bill 292 authorizes the Colorado Department of Human Services to develop an employment program to help Colorado Works participants obtain permanent living-wage jobs by funding subsidized employment, apprenticeships, on-the-job training and transitional jobs. SB 292 is sponsored by Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud and Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale. The three-year program is funded at $4 million per year from federal TANF funds.

CDHS will build upon their experience administering the Hire Colorado program (funded with federal stimulus money during the Great Recession) and the current ReHire Transitional Jobs program, which prioritizes unemployed veterans, non-custodial parents, and workers over 50 years old.

CCLP supports this legislation because it can help parents get on track to becoming valued workers and successful providers for their children.

Legislation earns wings
On Monday, SB 245 received final approval from the Colorado House of Representatives in a bipartisan vote of 39-26. Commonly known as the Notice to Quit Act, SB 245 extends the notification period for rent increases, or notices to vacate property, from seven to 21 days. Developed by Colorado Center on Law and Policy, SB 245 was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson and Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. The legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper to be signed into law.

Late last month, Gov. Hickenlooper signed SB 110. Sponsored by Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, the legislation would ease the regulatory burden on home-based child care providers so they could supervise more children without having to become a licensed child care provider so long as the children were related to the caregiver or to each other or both. CCLP supported the legislation in part because it would expand access to legal child care options for families – especially in “child-care deserts” where affordable child care options are hard to find.

– By Bob Mook