P.A. 22-101 AAC In-State Student Status of Veterans, a Postsecondary Prison Education Program Office, the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship Program, Food Insecure Students and Child Care Centers on or Near College Campuses. (H.B. 5301)

Home P.A. 22-101 AAC In-State Student Status of Veterans, a Postsecondary Prison Education Program Office, the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship Program, Food Insecure Students and Child Care Centers on or Near College Campuses. (H.B. 5301)

This bill makes various changes in the laws governing workforce development and postsecondary education. Information about select sections is below. To read a detailed analysis of each section of the bill from the Office of Legislative Research, please click here.

The changes include:

  1. it establishes various requirements to assess and address student food insecurity at the state’s public colleges and universities (§§ 4-7); and
  2. It requires the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) to jointly develop a plan to increase the number of child care facilities on or near each regional community technical college and state university campus (§ 8).

§§ 4-7 — Food-Insecure Students at Public Higher Education Institutions

The bill defines “food insecurity” or “food insecure” as the lack of financial resources needed to consistently access enough food for an active and healthy life. Specifically, it requires public colleges and universities to do the following:

  1. starting by March 1, 2023, biennially administer a survey to enrolled students to collect data on student food insecurity and the causes and reasons for it;
  2. starting by October 1, 2023, biennially evaluate their services and programs addressing the needs of food-insecure students and, based on the survey results, amend any existing services and programs or establish a new service or program to address these needs;
  3. starting by January 1, 2024, biennially report to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee on the (a) survey results; (b) food insecurity services and programs offered, including any changes made based on the survey results; and (c) number of students who used the services and programs in the preceding two years; and
  4. notify students about eligibility requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Under the bill, the survey administered by each public college and university must include questions about a student’s (1) demographic background, including age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, marital status, income, education, and employment; (2) specific barriers to food access; and (3) awareness or use of community or institutional resources to address food insecurity and barriers to accessing these resources. The bill requires each institution, when amending or establishing services and programs based on survey results, to set a goal of serving at least 10% of the students identified in the survey as being food insecure.

SNAP Eligibility for Public College and University Students: Beginning July 1, 2023, and annually afterwards, the bill requires BOR and BOT to consult with the Department of Social Services (DSS) to identify and maximize the number and type of their offered educational programs that would (1) increase a student’s employability and (2) qualify as an employment and training program under SNAP student eligibility requirements. By January 1, 2024, BOR, BOT, and DSS must post and regularly update the list of these identified programs offered at each institution under the boards’ governance on their respective websites. The bill allows any of the state’s public colleges and universities to consult with DSS to identify these programs.

The bill requires each public higher education institution to annually notify students about SNAP by any means of communication, including electronic mail. This notice must include (1) program eligibility requirements, (2) the program application process, and (3) where to find assistance with application completion.

The bill requires DSS, when determining SNAP eligibility and to the extent allowed by federal law (7 C.F.R. § 273.5), to consider a state public college or university student to be participating in a state or federally financed work-study program as soon as the enrolled student is approved for the program as part of his or her financial aid package, regardless of whether the student has received his or her work-study program assignment yet. Under federal law, students are eligible to receive SNAP benefits if they are actively participating in a state- or federally-funded work-study program.

§ 8 — Child Care Centers Near Regional Community- Technical College and State University Campuses

The bill requires OEC and BOR to jointly develop a plan to increase the number of OEC-licensed child care centers or group childcare homes on or near each regional community technical college and state university campus. The plan must include the development, expansion, and maintenance of these facilities that (1) are utilized by an early childhood education program for instructional purposes or (2) provide evening and weekend child care services in accordance with college or university course schedules.

P.A. 22-105 AAC Membership of the Low-Income Energy Advisory Board. (H.B. 5342)

This bill increases the Low-Income Energy Advisory Board’s membership by six members. The bill increases, from one to two, the number of community action agency representatives on the board as designated by the Connecticut Association for Community Action. It also adds the following five members:

  1. the executive directors of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Center for Children’s Advocacy, and Connecticut Green Building Council and
  2. two water company representatives designated by the Connecticut Water Works Association.

By law, and under the bill, a water company is generally any entity or entity’s lessee that owns, maintains, operates, manages, controls, or employs any pond, lake, reservoir, well, stream, or distributing plant or system that supplies water to two or more consumers (generally, buildings) or 25 or more people on a regular basis (CGS § 25-32a).

The bill also makes a minor change to include on the board the AARP Connecticut state director, rather than its Connecticut president.

By law, the board advises executive branch agencies on developing, planning, implementing, and coordinating energy-assistance-related programs and policies. The board also (1) advises the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on the impacts of utility rates and policies and (2) makes recommendations to the legislature on the administration of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program block grant. Under current law, the board includes at least 18 members, including representatives from (1) executive branch agencies (i.e., DEEP, the Office of Policy and Management, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, and the Department of Social Services); (2) electric and gas utilities; and (3) advocacy and nonprofit organizations (CGS § 16a-41b).