Policies seeking to help individuals get back in the workforce move to full Senate

With a focus on helping Kentuckians get back into the workforce, a Senate committee passed legislation to start a public-private partnership to help employers provide child care assistance as a benefit of employment and support those receiving public benefits make career decisions.

House Bill 499, sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin, establishes the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership, which encourages non-profit and for-profit employers to offer child care assistance as a benefit of employment by matching employer contributions with state dollars.

Under the program, each partnership will submit a contractual agreement to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and if approved, the state will match the employer contribution up to 100 percent of the cost of care. The amount of the match is tied to the workers’ household income.

The bill was amended in the meeting of the Senate Economic Development Committee to make small changes in the language, such as requiring a two-week notice for the termination of a contract.

Senate President Robert Stivers joined Representative Heavrin in support of the bill. He stated as he has traveled across the state and nation, child care assistance is the leading issue he has heard across the board in helping people continue with their careers. He added this is the best mechanism out there currently for government to work with businesses to ensure the differing needs of Kentuckians are met.

House Bill 499 passed with one no vote and now moves to the Senate floor.

The committee also unanimously passed House Bill 708, sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Dixon, to create a benefits calculator and job positing database to help those looking to pursue employment while not losing certain benefits or ensure a smooth transition. The legislation also forms a task force to examine “benefits cliff” issues facing many in the state and create a plan to address those hurdles.

A benefits cliff is when an individual suddenly loses eligibility for a public assistance benefit due to a wage increase or because they took a job.

Rep. Dixon said there are many Kentuckians who are ready to make their way off of assistance and this bill will help ensure people can make positive career moves without losing the support they rely on.

House Bill 708 was placed on the Senate consent orders.

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates on these bills.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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