The CARES Act and Unemployment Insurance: Who Is Eligible?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides important expansions to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program to help relieve some of the economic decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment has risen at an unprecedented rate. Nationwide, over the past two weeks, nearly 10 million people applied for UI.

Food Access: Changes to SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition During COVID-19

In times of crisis and uncertainty, Montanans come together to take care of each other. In the last two weeks, record numbers of people have lost their jobs and are at risk of hunger.

In order to address this potential crisis, Montana, the federal government, and local communities have taken great strides to help ensure no one goes hungry during this pandemic.

State Action on Evictions, Foreclosures, and Utilities

This week, Governor Bullock issued an executive order to place a moratorium on evictions in light of COVID-19. We included this recommendation in our report released earlier this week, and it is a step that many other housing advocates are calling for. With thousands of workers facing reduced hours or layoff, families are grappling with how to cover basic necessities, like food, utilities, and housing costs.

State Takes Steps on SNAP to Help Families Impacted by COVID-19

On March 23, we published a report on ways the state can help ensure no one goes hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are pleased to see the Governor has taken quick action one of the items we included: to guarantee no one’s Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) coverage will lapse during this crisis. The Federal Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved Montana’s waiver to extend household’s SNAP eligibility period.

Every Child Counts in the Census

The 2020 Census count has started, and a complete count of all Montanans is critical to ensuring the state receives its fair share of federal funds over the next ten years. Unfortunately, the youngest among us, children under five years old, are at the highest risk of being undercounted. In 2000, an undercount cost Montana nearly $21 million in lost funding for programs our children rely upon.

Updates from the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee Meeting

On March 5-6, the State-Tribal Relations Committee (STRC) met in Helena to discuss a wide variety of topics.

To quickly recap the importance of STRC, the 2001 Montana Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 10, which established the STRC to:

Act as a liaison with tribal governments,
Encourage state-tribal and local government-tribal cooperation,
Conduct interim studies, and
Report its activities, findings, recommendations, and any proposed legislation.

In August 2019, the STRC adopted its work plan for the interim and outlined how it will carry out its

Here’s What to Expect Next Week During a Busy Legislative Interim Committee Week

It’s a busy week next week for Montana legislative interim committees. A number of the topics that policymakers will consider next week are issues Montana families are grappling with in their communities – from access to early childhood education to affordable housing. We hope these discussions will result in concrete state policies in 2021 to help move Montana on a better course for families and workers.