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Capitol Insider: Latest News on Food Insecurity Policy & Advocacy (February 2024)

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by Bailey Ashbaker, Senior Policy Analyst and Engagement Specialist, and Jessica Dietrich, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy


State Updates

It’s a busy week at the Capitol! February 26 and 29 are the first series of deadlines for filed legislation to make it out of committee. While it’s still early in the session, after this week we’ll have a better idea of which bills stand a fighting chance to make it all the way to the Governor’s desk. One of the most highly anticipated bills, House Bill 1955, which proposed to eliminate the state portion of the tax on grocery food items, is one such of these bills. The Senate voted to pass the bill on February 22, and on February 28 the Governor signed it into law. The bill will take effect in August.

Child Nutrition Legislation

  • Thrive Act
    • SB 1363 (Sen. Garvin): Referred to Senate Education and Senate Appropriations committees 1/23/24. Was not heard in committee.
      • Provides meal cost reimbursement to schools with a high percentage of students on free or reduced lunch waivers and proposes a study to evaluate the impact of school meals on students.
    • SB 1473 (Sen. Garvin): Passed out of Senate Ag and Rural Affairs; referred to Senate Appropriations 2/19/24.
      • Creates a state grant to incentivize purchase of local foods for school meals.
  • HB 1376 (Rep. Boatman): Carried over.
    • Expands free school meals to households with incomes up to 250% of the FPL.
  • HB 1840 (Rep. Kerbs): Set on the House Floor Agenda 2/19/24.
    • Proposes to move Child Nutrition program administration from OK State Department of Education to Department of Agriculture.
  • SB 1220 (Sen. Hicks): Referred to Senate Education and Senate Appropriations committees. Was not heard in committee.
    • Expands free school meals to households below 250% of the FPL.
  • SB 1324 (Sen. R. Thompson): Voted out of Senate Education Committee 2/20/24.
    • Creates optional electronic universal meal application for free and reduced-price meals.
  • HB 3461 (Rep. Moore): Referred to House Committee on House Rules 2/7/24. Was not heard in committee.
    • Requires Legislature to appropriate funds for no-cost meals for all.

Notable Legislation

  • SB 1244 (Sen. Daniels): Passed out of Senate Finance Committee 2/5/24.
    • Removes certain population size requirements for nonprofits to qualify for a sales tax exemption on services for homeless persons.
  • HB 4060 (Rep. Wallace): Passed out of House Appropriations & Budget 2/21/24.
    • Provides liability protections for donations of wild game to charitable orgs.
  • HB 3831 (Rep. Alonso-Sandoval): Referred to House Rules 2/6/24. Was not heard in committee.
    • Creates Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Act.
  • HB 3829 (Rep. Alonso-Sandoval): Passed out of House A&B Sub: Natural Resources, returned to full committee in House Appropriations & Budget 2/12/24.
    • Creates grant program to support urban farming, community gardens, and agriculture projects in urban settings.

Benefits Application Legislation

  • SB 1318 (Sen. Garvin): Referred to Senate Health & Human Services and Senate Appropriations committees. Was not heard in committee.
  • HB 3235 (Rep. Lawson): Passed out of House Children, Youth & Family Service committee 2/13/24.
    • Creates universal benefits application for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and WIC

Register for Anti-Hunger Day at the Capitol!

Do you want to activate your advocacy on anti-hunger issues this legislative session? Join Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and Hunger Free Oklahoma for our 2024 Anti-Hunger Day at the Capitol April 22. Click here to register now.

Federal Updates 

Congress has yet to finalize a budget for the 2024 federal fiscal year, which runs October 1, 2023 – September 30, 2024. In December, Congress passed a “stepped” continuing resolution funding some portions of the government through January 19, 2024, and the remaining portions of the government through February 2, 2024, that has since been extended to March 1, 2024, and March 8, 2024, respectively. Appropriators are hopeful that this latest stopgap will allow enough time to finally wrap up funding negotiations and avert a government shutdown. But Congress must still come to an agreement on funding for the rest of the government, including the military and some of the biggest domestic programs, before a second deadline on March 22.

Two key priorities we are watching that will hopefully be included in the final FY 2024 package are an increased amount of funding for WIC and a bipartisan Child Tax Credit expansion. If additional WIC funding is not secured, program administrators may need to place program applicants on a waitlist for benefits.

Due to this new FY 2024 budget timeline, action on the Farm Bill will most likely be pushed to December 2024 or potentially into 2025. Though disappointing, no Farm Bill is better than a harmful Farm Bill.

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