Nevada Interim Finance Committee approves Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Interim Finance Committee approves Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act

Several lawmakers on Thursday questioned whether a federally funded nutrition study would generate any useful data.

But the majority of the Interim Finance Committee approved the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act study anyway.

Community Health Manager Mary Wherry said the study would look at three groups of 2,500 people each, one receiving the standard food stamps allowance, the next receiving a $40 increase in that monthly allotment and the third receiving not only the extra money but case management, support and nutritional information to see if it makes any difference in their overall health.

The focus of the study is on obesity in children and their overall health.

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Smith Valley, a physician, said the study only lasts about a year and she doesn’t think there would be any valuable data generated in that time.

“Outcome data takes a long time to accumulate,” she said.

Titus said even though the cost is 100 percent paid by the federal government, she thinks the $3.4 million in taxpayer money is wasted because a one-year study is far too short to produce anything meaningful.

“They say it’s federal money but that’s still taxpayer money,” Titus said after the meeting.

Titus was joined by Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, who said the state has numerous nutrition programs ranging from the governor’s “Breakfast after the bell” to food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to name a few and no one makes any effort to bring all the information from those programs together.

“It’s great to have all these studies and things but no one can put all these studies together,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said it would be much more important and valuable to collect the data from all the nutrition programs the state is involved in, “because there’s such a huge focus on nutrition and whether it makes a difference in your life as a whole.”

“Is there a way to combine all that information so we can see as a whole what it’s doing?” she asked.

Wherry said several of those programs report to the Food Security Council but Kirkpatrick is correct no one at this point brings all the data together.

Also, IFC approved waivers to some 40 state agencies giving them two more years to work on the 2013 requirement that all forms in state government be available and usable on the Internet.

Director of Administration Jim Wells said 34 agencies have managed to put nearly 1,500 forms on the web for people to fill out without physically going to an agency office but 40 other agencies have been unable to post more than 1,600 other forms. He said those are primarily forms that require a “wet signature” — an actual pen and ink signature — and/or must be notarized.

The problem is the cost of doing so.

“It’s not as simple as putting a copy of a form in PDF on the website,” said Wells. “You have to be able to fill out that form.”

He said he isn’t even certain there’s an electronic way around the requirement some documents and applications be physically signed and notarized.

Asked why the 2013 legislation didn’t carry fiscal notes indicating the cost, Wells said it did originally, but those notes were removed after the bill was amended to allow agencies to seek the waivers on Thursday’s agenda. He said many of them didn’t know exactly what would be needed to implement the “transparency” bill.

The committee gave agencies another two years to work on the process but asked Wells for an update in December including an explanation of the costs that range from a few hundred to $500,000 to do the job.