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Dec 4, 2023

Improving Housing Affordability, Combating Period Poverty, Prohibiting Book Banning, and Automatically Renewing Medicaid Amongst Resolutions Approved by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

Check out the photos of the event here.

Washington, D.C. – The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) held its Annual Meeting in Philadelphia to vote on the resolutions presented by members and the organization’s task forces.

This year, the Government, Social Justice and Taxation; Labor & Workforce Development; Energy, Infrastructure and Environment; Veterans and Military Affairs; Housing; Education; Immigration; and Healthcare Task Forces presented resolutions for the consideration of all the legislators. Some of the resolutions adopted are:

Representative Ángel Fourquet (PR), Vice Chair of NHCSL’s Housing Task Force and Sponsor of the Calling for Stricter Short-Term Rental Regulations to Improve Housing Affordability resolution, explained that “the housing crisis our country faces has only grown since 2020 and made it obvious for those who hadn’t notice it. Several issues affect each state differently, but the impact of the lack of housing supply for long term rentals is felt through every major city and Puerto Rico. We hope this resolution helps other states follow the lead on tightening the regulatory framework of short-term rentals, because one of the most effective ways to tackle inflation is by increasing the number of affordable housing units in the market”.

Asm. Jessica González-Rojas (NY), one of the sponsors of the resolution on Educating and Easing the Burden of Period Poverty, explained that “for decades, Latinas have been on the frontline for the fight for sexual and reproductive rights. The fight against period poverty has always been part of that effort, because the lack of access to menstrual products, which 23% of teens and 34% of adults have struggled to afford, is a barrier to equal access to education and promotes stigma. Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. have passed legislation to help students who menstruate to have free access to period products while at school, but that legislation varies in quality and funding and doesn’t always cover those in detention or homeless shelters. Furthermore, federal statutes and regulations prohibit safety-net programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC, from providing enrollees with free menstrual hygiene products. This resolution is a call to action for all state legislatures to exempt menstrual hygiene products from sales taxes, require and provide free, high-quality menstrual hygiene products in schools, jails, detention centers, and shelters, and mandate holistic education around menstrual health for all students.”

On the resolution Automatic Enrollment and Streamlined Renewal in Medicaid, Sen. Gustavo Rivera (NY) remarked that “often times, people have fluctuating incomes throughout the year, particularly those that work in the gig economy. That is why in states like New York, we have adopted the gold-standard of 12-month continuous Medicaid eligibility. Moreover, some people are unaware that they are eligible for Medicaid. There are two ways this can be solved: one is through presumptive eligibility, which authorizes entities like schools, community-based organizations, and hospitals to determine if an individual qualifies for Medicaid; the other solution could be as simple as including a question, when a person files state income tax returns, that authorizes checking eligibility for Medicaid and automatic enrollment. As policymakers, we must constantly innovate and find solutions that ensure no one is falling through the cracks, especially when it comes to healthcare.”

“The policies adopted by NHCSL reflect the solutions that address the specific needs of Hispanic communities nationwide, and an intention to advocate at both state and federal level for what they’re proposing to change, amend or advance. If we look back at what’s happened this year at the state level, we see that the state legislature’s power to improve, or turn back the clock, in several issues has only grown. These resolutions go beyond a reaction to what happened in 2023, like the wave of book banning and the worrisome loss of coverage for Medicaid recipients. They serve as a moral compass of what good policymaking is and serve as a roadmap for legislators to introduce and champion bills as early as January of 2024”, stated Kenneth Romero, Executive Director of NHCSL.

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 450 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.