Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Health, Welfare and Institutions - Social Services Subcommittee
HB1820 - SNAP benefits program; eligibility for benefits, postsecondary education.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Horejsi Organization: -Social Action Linking Together (SALT) Locality: Vienna

Chairman & Committee Members: On behalf of SALT's 1300 members I urge you to vote for HB 1820 to increase Access to SNAP: Implement Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility by (Delegate Helmer). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) is a federal food assistance program that helps low-income families put food on the table. Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) streamlines SNAP enrollment for all individuals receiving a TANF funded service. 43 states have implemented BBCE. Virginia is one of the seven who have not. As a result, Virginia is missing out on: • Helping over 25,000 families put food on the table and • Millions of federal dollars entering our economy. Federal regulations allow for states to set SNAP eligibility levels between 130% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). Virginia is at the bare minimum of 130%. Currently, to qualify for SNAP in Virginia, an applicant must: • Have a gross income that must fall within 130% of the FPL, • Have net income fall within 100% of FPL, and • Pass an asset test. The Solution: Increase the gross income eligibility level to 200% of the FPL and remove the asset test. The Wins: This will increase access to SNAP for more children. • Children who are eligible for SNAP are then also eligible for free school meals. • This will help reduce school meal debt, which is a growing issue in VA schools. Increasing the number of SNAP recipients in Virginia will pump more money into local economies, helping smaller grocery stores. • Every SNAP dollar will generate ~$1.50 in economic activity. The state’s investment in BBCE will result in an e $10.5 million of economic activity. Budget Request • General Fund: $281,292 / Non-General Fund: $342,558 If funded, this budget amendment will help over 25,000 more families . SALT urges you to Vote for HB 1820.

Last Name: Edwards Organization: Voices for Virginia's Children Locality: Richmond

Voices for Virginia's children is supportive of HB1820. Families are witnessing the closing of nearby community centers they may have relied on, unemployment, choosing between going to work, staying home sick, or putting food on the table. Economic Trauma occurs when financial stress and/or economic shocks impact a person’s feelings of safety, their ability to remain calm, manage healthy relationships with others, and maintain the belief that their situation can improve, which can lead to an impaired ability to function in daily life. Currently, families are facing financial stress, economic shock, and financial health. The temporary assistance for needly families would further put families in a position where they can experience the supports to achieve financial independence, which means children are able to be resilient and live, long, health, and successful lives without trauma.

Last Name: Feldstein Organization: n/a Locality: Springfield

Hunger for the very poor is an ongoing problem. It has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Many Virginia families are suffering. I, along with many others, have been contributing to charitable food sources. It is not enough. Virginia can help alleviate this problem by, among other things, expanding SNAP benefits. This is not only a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do. I respectfully urge you to act favorably on HB1820.

Last Name: Lowsen Locality: City of Alexandria

Our families drive our economy. We are leaving them behind. It is long past time for us to join the other 43 states making it easier for families to get enough to eat. We have to give the families of Virginia every opportunity to succeed. As long as food is a luxury we can't do that. Please ensure we can feed Virginia's most vulnerable families.

Last Name: Davenport Organization: Virginia Community College System Locality: Hanover County

The Virginia Community College System supports HB 1820 provided that the language changes that VDSS requested are made so that the bill aligns to Federal regulations.

Last Name: Amanda Winters Locality: Arlington

I am writing today in support of HB1820- which has the potential to help more than 25,000 more families feed their families. I was born in Virginia, while my father was stationed in Norfolk as a submariner. In adulthood, I found my way back to the state and now live in NOVA and work for the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. I am submitting these comments as a private citizen and not on behalf of my employer, but the work that I have been able to do with state leaders has certainly informed my perspective on supporting students and families. 43 states have already implemented Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) which streamlines SNAP enrollment for all individuals receiving a TANF funded service. I hope that, through this bill, Virginia will join that large group of states to streamline access to these programs to support their families. This type of effort is a perfect example of the ways that state can leverage federal programs to maximize the impact of every dollar to support Virginia families. I approach this issue from a postsecondary education perspective, which is my policy area. I am so proud that Virginia is so proactive and strategic in it's efforts to build a future workforce and provide economic opportunity to it's residents. HB1820 is yet another opportunity to move towards these goals. Providing accessible basic supports for Virginia families while they work to obtain quality education and employment opportunities can break cycles of poverty. Postsecondary attainment and workforce participation are not just numbers, they represent people. People who have pathways to support their families and children who have their needs taken care of and can focus on their future opportunities. My policy work has taught me that when federal and state support programs can be better connected and made more accessible for families- positive impacts can be maximized. HB1820 is a relatively small step that will make huge impacts in the lives of families in need in Virginia. I hope that delegates will vote to pass this bill and continue to double down on state efforts to provide support for Virginia residents as they work towards a brighter economic future.

Last Name: Hertzberg Locality: Fallc Church

Delegate Helmer, I am writing in support of HB1820. I was made aware of this by a friend and must say it is embarrassing to see that Virginia is one of a handful of states that has such restrictive requirements to qualify for the most basic of human needs - food. The dollar amount to support increasing the gross income eligibility to 200% of the FPL and remove the asset test is minimal, and should absolutely be passed to ensure that Virginians so desperately in need of support receive it. There are so many positive things that would result in the passing of HB 1820, and it is critical to increase the eligibility so that children and families can benefit and ensure they are not presented with yet another obstacle to being food insecure. Thank you.

Last Name: Oliver Organization: Federation of Virginia Food Banks Locality: Richmond City

On behalf of Virginia's seven regional food banks, I am requesting your support for HB1820. The bill will significantly improve food security in our Commonwealth at a time when we are seeing unprecedented levels of demand for emergency food service. First, it is long past time for Virginia to implement Broad Based Categorical Eligibility - a policy option which 43 other states have already adopted. Increasing the gross income limit to 200% of the federal poverty level and removing the asset test will help 25,000 families put food on the table and generate much-needed economic activity in local communities. Second, HB1820 will expand SNAP access for college students, who often fall through the gaps of the nutrition safety net. Two surveys conducted at James Madison University in 2019 found that 30% of JMU students suffered from food insecurity, which is comparable to national estimates. Despite high levels of need, college students face restrictive eligibility criteria in order to qualify for SNAP. With the passage of this bill, we can take important steps to increase SNAP participation among college students, which will allow them to focus on their studies instead of worrying where their next meal will come from. The Federation of Virginia Food Banks strongly urges the passage of HB1820.

Last Name: Connole Organization: James Madison University Student Government Association Locality: Harrisonburg, Virginia

As the Legislative Affairs Chair for the Student Government Association of James Madison University, I support this legislation’s recognition of the laborious demands of postsecondary education. This bill needs your support in order to help students receive the VIEW assistance and SNAP benefits that will support them as they earn their degree. Food insecurity on college campuses has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and this legislation would help alleviate a lot of the burden on students who are balancing a full course load and also trying to find income to cover food costs.

Last Name: Rhodes Organization: Self Locality: Fairfax County

I urge passage of HB1820, which would relax the eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). By increasing the gross income eligibility level to 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, many more families would receive federal assistance for food. Additionally, this law would also pump more money into local economies. I also urge others to support this legislation. Andrew Rhodes

Last Name: Knutson Organization: Beth El Hebrew Congregation Locality: Alexandria

To whom it may concern, I am writing to voice my support for HB1820 and to encourage Delegates to support this important legislation that will extend SNAP benefits to more Virginians and address food insecurity. In doing so, Virginia will join 43 states that have already implemented Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) to streamline the enrollment of individuals receiving a TANF funded service for SNAP benefits. By funding HB1820, Virginia would extend benefits to an estimated 25,000 residents. Children of these families would also receive access to free school meals. And, Virginia’s estimated investment in BBCE would generate an estimated $10.5 million in economic activity. This is a win-win for the Commonwealth. Thank you in advance for your support of HB1820. Best, Harmony Knutson Alexandria

Last Name: Welton Organization: The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice Locality: Fairfax

I respectfully submit the following comments on behalf of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in support of HB1820. HB 1820 accomplishes two goals; it will expand access to food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) to an estimated 25,000 Virginia families. The children in these families will then be newly eligible for free school meals. It will also improve access to SNAP and the VIEW program for college students, many of whom are struggling to complete college credentials during COVID-19. SNAP, the nation’s largest and most effective food assistance program, provides a monthly supplement for purchasing nutritious food. HB 1820 improves access to SNAP by allowing Virginians living at up to 200% of the federal poverty level to access nutrition assistance. This policy change is critical because it allows a household’s SNAP benefit to decrease slowly as their income rises, providing a smoothing effect as people transition off assistance programs. Virginia’s current policy of cutting families off at 130% of the federal poverty level means that a very small raise could leave someone worse off than they were before the raise due to the total loss of SNAP benefit, essentially penalizing a household for getting a raise. Evidence from our latest #RealCollege During the Pandemic survey, completed in the spring by more than 38,000 students, revealed that 44% of students at two-year institutions and 38% at four-year institutions experienced food insecurity due to the pandemic. Students were also impacted by record unemployment. The survey showed that two-thirds of students were experiencing job insecurity, with one-third having recently lost a job. As this crisis rages on, these challenges will likely grow. HB1820 recognizes the reality of the job market during the COVID-19 emergency -- and the importance of an educated workforce to Virginia’s future – by improving access to critical basic needs supports for college students. This bill maximizes federal rules in student eligibility and eases the restrictions that force students to choose between continuing their education or subsisting in a low-wage, limited-growth job. College completion is critical for individuals, their families, and for the national economic recovery. People without college degrees were harmed most by the Great Recession. They did not experience the same recovery that college degree holders did and in many cases, they are now worse off. In an economy in which the vast majority of new jobs require some form of postsecondary credential, improving college student success will improve the likelihood that our nation can recover economically and do so faster. Given the extensive research that shows college improves a vast array of social and economic outcomes, improving student access to support programs that bolster their educational success should be a priority for all policymakers. Thank you, Carrie R. Welton Director of Policy & Advocacy The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice

Last Name: Wright Locality: Glen Allen

I am for nurse practitioner to be able to practice without a doctor being there

Last Name: Loving Organization: Midwifes Locality: Chesterfield

Addressing topics for perspective is a form of growth.

HB1957 - Adult adoption; investigation and report.
Last Name: Brown Organization: Personal Locality: Williamsburg, VA

I thank the Social Services subcommittee of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee for including my testimonial in the hearing of bill HB1957. I am a different person, a better citizen, and a happier human being because of my adult adoption. Jack and Jacque Blundell, the couple that raised me as a child, were not my parents by birth. My childhood was a challenging one, only made survivable by their influence and guidance. Without their steady and true devotion, I would not be the person I am today. Since being adopted, I have been able to address the abuse and trauma that I experienced by the hands of my biological parents. I have held a full-time job for the past 8 years. I am happily married and we have a home and a life in Williamsburg, Virginia. I mention these accomplishments because they are all results of feeling secure. The security I felt after being adopted by the family that truly raised me cannot be understated in this case. While it is commendable that VA is a state that allows adult adoption, the process was far from easy. Without the wealth, privilege, and time that I and my adopted family have, it would be nigh on impossible to complete this process financially. The process was laborious and the investigation and report were painstaking and convoluted. The financial toll on local divisions of social services in Virginia is also apparent. Additionally, the emotional toll of an investigation and report were exceedingly painful for me. Not all social services workers are familiar with adult adoption law and/or protocol. This lack of understanding was triggering for me. Several times I was told that my biological parents - and abusers- would be required to approve of this adoption. Legally this is not so, but the social services worker was not aware of that. Without our attorney guiding us, I may have given up on my dream of having a true set of parents who love me. I hope that this subcommittee seriously considers the impact that implementing bill HB1957 would have on potential adult adoptions in the state of Virginia. I am one of the lucky ones who is able to call the family that raised me my parents. I was able to navigate this process that is counterintuitive, expensive for individuals and the state, and emotionally taxing. I no longer fear being in an accident and my mother and father not having the ability to visit me in the hospital. My hope is bill will change that for those who are not of the socioeconomic bracket that I and my parents are part of. Nicole Blundell Brown

Last Name: Wright Locality: Glen Allen

I am for nurse practitioner to be able to practice without a doctor being there

HB2065 - Produce Rx Program; Dept. of Social Services, et al., to develop a plan for a 3-yr. pilot Program.
Last Name: Randolph Locality: Chesterfield

Thank you to the committee, my name is Shaddai R. from Richmond, Virginia. I am here to encourage you to.. 1. Increase the allocation of tax revenue towards the reinvestment fund from 30% to 70% because anything less than a majority of the revenues is disingenuous to the priorities of the bill. 2. Allocate 50% of all licenses towards Virginia social equity license holders as no other licenses are required to be owned by Virginia residents. 3. Add another tier of license, micro-business licenses, so that smaller applicants can enter with unique integration privileges. 4. Do not add any new crimes nor criminalize another generation of youth because of a fake war on drugs

Last Name: Jackson Organization: Marijuana Justice Locality: North Chesterfield

I am a constituent of the 7th district but I feel it is necessary to work together to protect the younger members of our society and stop the criminalization of the Hispanic and African American communities. Rules must be stated clearly now so we are better prepared to face a future when marijuana is officially legalized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please increase the reinvestment from 30% to 70% for new companies and entrepreneurs. Make sure the new market is equitable and accessible to all not just large corporations.

Last Name: Lamar Locality: Midlothian

The Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Virginia Nurses Association strongly supports Delegate McQuinn's efforts around food access and security to improve the health of all Virginians. We hope the General Assembly will support this legislation. COVID-19 has increased Virginia's food insecurity rate from 9.9% to 13.1%. Numerous studies have demonstrated correlation between food insecurity and poor health outcomes, particularly higher levels of chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, arthritis, COPN and CKD. Similar programs in other states have demonstrated efficacy for increasing participants' consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: Virginia First Cities Coalition Locality: City of Richmond

Virginia First Cities' 16 older, core city members are supportive of HB2065 and all investments to ensure our cities and citizens have access to thriving, sustainable food options. Delegate McQuinn's bill will help remove barriers and costs of access to healthy foods so that no one has to experience food insecurity.

Last Name: Phillips, Rufus Organization: Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics Locality: Henrico

On behalf of our 57 free clinic members located throughout the Commonwealth, including 11 clinics are also Medicaid, providers, the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics supports HB2065. Our clinic members serve over 60,000 vulnerable Virginians each year, many of whom suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and would benefit from improved access to healthier foods. Our clinics that currently offer food pharmacy programs similar to the Produce Rx Program pilot proposed in HB2065 have experienced positive outcomes from these programs with their patients, including lower blood sugar levels, weight loss, and lower blood pressure readings, and in some cases a decreased level of need for prescription medications to address certain conditions. Based on this positive experience our clinics are having with their food pharmacy efforts, we strongly believe the proposed Produce Rx Program pilot will yield improved health outcomes for the Medicaid patients who participate in it, help to decrease the need for prescription medicines among these same patients, and ultimately reduce the overall cost of their care.

Last Name: Laura Bateman Organization: VIRGINIA FIRST CITIES COALITION Locality: City of Richmond

Virginia First Cities' 16 older, core city members are supportive of HB2065 and all investments to ensure our cities and citizen have access to thriving, sustainable food options. Delegate McQuinn's bill will help remove barriers and costs of access to healthy foods so that no one has to experience food insecurity.

HB2191 - Social services, local department of; location of child in local department's custody.
No Comments Available
HB2212 - Children's Services Act; effective monitoring and implementation.
Last Name: Reiner Organization: Office of Children's Services Locality: Henrico

This is Scott Reiner, Executive Director of the Office of Children's Services. The administration has no position on this bill. I can be available to respond to questions at the request of the Chair r members of the committee.

Last Name: Gilbreath Organization: Voices for Virginia's Child Locality: North Chesterfield

Voices for Virginia's Children and the Foster Care Policy Network comprised of 25 organizations is in support of this bill.

End of Comments