Voting Rights and Registration

  • Automatic voter registration goes beyond the DMV, By J.B. Wogan, April 17, 2018, Governing: “New Jersey on Tuesday became the 12th state, plus the District of Columbia, to enact an automatic voter registration law, which is intended to increase participation in elections. While automatic voter registration (AVR) is itself a new trend — first adopted in Oregon in 2015 — New Jersey’s law represents a new twist: It allows the practice to extend beyond the DMV…”
  • This New Jersey law is blocking African Americans from voting in shocking numbers, By Samantha Melamed, April 12, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Thirty years in prison can teach you patience. That’s a good thing for Ronald Pierce, who was paroled last year, as he’s likely in for a long fight.  Pierce, a 59-year-old North Jersey man, accepts that he’s on parole and will be for the rest of his life. But one thing he can’t accept: He’s also being denied the right to vote…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count Report: Poverty down, health and education remain concerns, By Erin Dietzer, April 17, 2018, Holland Sentinel: “The good news in the 2018 Michigan Kids Count Report is that poverty is finally seeing a drop. The bad news is that a majority of child well-being indicators have stagnated or worsened statewide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income…”
  • Report: Rate of black kids living in poverty dips, April 17, 2018, Detroit News: “While Michigan continues to recover from the Great Recession, one group has lagged behind. The number of black children living in poverty has dropped but still remains alarmingly high, according to the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. It has fallen from 48 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2016…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Fair Housing

  • Pursuing desegregation in the Trump era, By Teresa Wiltz, April 11, 2018, Stateline: “Fifty years ago, just a week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and cities went up in flames — President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act. For the first time, housing discrimination was illegal. The law also did something else: It required cities to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ — that is, to actively eliminate segregation in their communities. Civil rights advocates hoped the law would be the key to finally ending the extreme racial segregation around the country. But enforcement of the law was sporadic at best, and a half-century later, segregation remains deeply entrenched in the United States. In fact, some of the nation’s most diverse cities — those with large non-white populations — are among the most segregated…”
  • A house you can buy, but never own, By Alana Semuels, April 10, 2018, The Atlantic: “It was not until a few years after he moved in that Zachary Anderson realized that he was not, in fact, the owner of the house he thought he’d purchased. Anderson had already spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing a hole in the roof, replacing a cracked sidewalk, and fixing the ceilings of the small two-bedroom home where he lives in southwest Atlanta. He was trying to get a reduction in his property taxes when his brother, who was helping him with his taxes, looked up the property in public records and found that the owner of the home was actually listed as Harbour Portfolio VII LP…”

Maternal and Infant Mortality

  • Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis, By Linda Villarosa, April 11, 2018, New York Times Magazine: “When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. ‘I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,’ says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. ‘It was something I thought we could do together.’  But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed…”
  • Report: Texas’ maternal deaths were dramatically lower in 2012 under new methodology, By Marissa Evans, April 9, 2018, Texas Tribune: “The number of Texas women who died from pregnancy complications in 2012 is being cut by more than half through a new state method for counting and confirming maternal deaths — which made Texas the subject of national news coverage over its high death rate. Several of the state’s top health experts released a report in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Monday  showing that by using the new method, the number of women who died dropped from 147 to 56…”

Eviction in US Cities

In 83 million eviction records, a sweeping and intimate new look at housing in America, By Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, April 7, 2018, New York Times: “Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.  This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond…”

Medicaid Expansion – Louisiana, Montana

  • Medicaid expansion created 19,000 new jobs in Louisiana, according to study, By Maria Clark, April 10, 2018, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Louisiana’s decision to expand Medicaid in 2016 led to a $1.85 billion direct economic impact, according to an economic impact report released Tuesday (April 11). The report called Medicaid Expansion and the Louisiana Economy was commissioned by the Louisiana Department of Health and prepared by Dr. Jim Richardson and the Public Administration Institute at Louisiana State University…”
  • Report: Medicaid expansion pays for itself; future economic impact seen as bright, By Holly K. Michels, April 10, 2018, Billings Gazette: “In the first two years after Montana expanded Medicaid, the savings to the state have eclipsed the costs. Though that could flip by 2020, increased activity in Montana’s economy because of the expansion will more than make up the difference. That’s according to a report commissioned by the Montana Healthcare Foundation and Headwaters Foundation…”

March 2018 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. job growth slows sharply; unemployment rate stays at 4.1%, By Don Lee, April 6, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Job growth slowed sharply in March from the pace of recent months as employers in most sectors took a breather in hiring. Wage gains went up only slightly last month even though businesses are finding it increasingly harder to attract qualified workers and more people are leaving their jobs voluntarily…”
  • U.S. job growth eased in March; unemployment steady at 4.1%, By Ben Casselman, April 6, 2018, New York Times: “The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for March on Friday morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

Fewer kids in Florida live in poverty but state ranks 40 overall for child well-being, By Liz Freeman, April 5, 2018, Naples Daily News: “Kids can’t get ahead when they are behind with learning and thriving. New Florida Kids Count data shows modest improvement statewide for children getting out of poverty and for students graduating on time, but more needs to be done to improve their future, according to program officials…”

Public Transit System and the Homeless – Los Angeles

As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway, By Laura J. Nelson, April 6, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “The early morning commuters stepping off the Metro escalator paid little attention to the 10 people huddled under blankets and curled up in corners at the Hollywood and Vine station. John Gant, 60, lay sprawled on the tile floor, his hoodie drawn over his face. When three social workers stopped to ask if he wanted help, he nodded.  Over hot coffee and pages of paperwork, Gant, who had been homeless for years, called his mother to share the news. He cracked a rare smile, saying: ‘They’re trying to find me a place to sleep.’  The Metro system has been a refuge for homeless people for decades. But as Los Angeles County’s homeless population has surged, reaching more than 58,000 people last year, the sanitation and safety problems on trains and buses are approaching what officials and riders say are crisis levels…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

Republicans lead Medicaid expansion push in 2 holdout states, By Mattie Quinn, March 30, 2018, Governing: “After five years of failed attempts to expand Medicaid, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last week to do just that. It may come as a surprise that the bill was sponsored by a Republican. Republicans have historically opposed making more low-income people eligible for the government health insurance program. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama’s signature legislation, the federal government pays 90 to 100 percent of the costs for any state that expands. But Republican-led states have been slow to expand Medicaid, and nearly 20 of them still have not…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Northern Ky. expected to be first area affected by new Medicaid work/training requirement, By Lisa Gillespie, April 6, 2018, Cincinnati Public Radio: “A top Kentucky official says northern Kentucky will likely be the first area where Medicaid enrollees will have to meet the state’s new ‘community engagement’ requirement, starting July 1. Kristi Putnam, program manager for the Medicaid changes in Kentucky, said the state sent out post-cards this week…”
  • Ohio’s plan to add work requirements for Medicaid gets push back, By Kaitlin Schroeder, April 5, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Dozens of medical and social service lobbying groups are pushing back against Ohio Medicaid’s request to create work requirements for able-bodied adults covered through Medicaid expansion. The Trump administration opened the door for states to add the first-ever work requirements associated with the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. In response, the Republican-dominated legislature inserted language in last summer’s budget bill ordering the Kasich administration to apply…”
  • Several groups sign letter opposing HIP work requirement, By Jill Sheridan, March 28, 2018, Indiana Public Media: “A group of non-profits organizations sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb this week, urging him to reconsider a new Healthy Indiana Plan, HIP, rule.  More than 400,000 Hoosiers are currently enrolled in HIP which is Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program.  Last month the state became the second state to receive federal permission to add a work requirement…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • The hidden crisis on college campuses: Many students don’t have enough to eat, By Caitlin Dewey, April 3, 2018, Washington Post: “Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result…”
  • Hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students, study finds, By Vanessa Romo, April 3, 2018, National Public Radio: “As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they’re gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab…”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

Felony voting laws are confusing; activists would ditch them altogether, By Rebecca Beitsch, April 5, 2018, Stateline: “Her sentencing made headlines across the country this week: A woman, recently released from prison in Texas and still on felony probation, is set to head back to prison for another five years after she unknowingly broke the law by voting in the 2016 election. Texas law prohibits people such as Crystal Mason from voting until they are no longer under supervision by corrections officers. Mason told the court she had no idea she was prohibited from voting. At her polling station, officials let her cast a provisional ballot. The confusion over felons’ voting rights is not limited to Mason’s situation or to Texas. Across the country, state felon voting laws vary widely…”

Bail System

When bail feels less like freedom, more like extortion, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Shaila Dewan, March 31, 2018, New York Times: “Most bail bond agents make it their business to get their clients to court. But when Ronald Egana showed up at the criminal courthouse in New Orleans, he was surprised to find that his bondsman wanted to stop him. A bounty hunter was waiting at the courthouse metal detector to intercept Mr. Egana and haul him to the bond company office, he said. The reason: The bondsman wanted to get paid. Mr. Egana ended up in handcuffs, missing his court appearance while the agency got his mother on the phone and demanded more than $1,500 in overdue payments, according to a lawsuit. It was not the first time Mr. Egana had been held captive by the bond company, he said, nor would it be the last. Each time, his friends or family was forced to pay more to get him released, he said…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Medicaid is a lifeline for nearly half of this county’s residents, By Phil Galewitz, March 27, 2018, CNN Money: “On a crisp sunny day, Tyson Toledo, a precocious 5-year-old boy, hobbled into a private health clinic to have his infected foot examined. Pediatrician Gayle Harrison told his mother to continue to apply antibiotic ointment and reminded them to come back if the swelling and redness worsened. The appointment at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services’ outpatient center in Gallup, New Mexico, comes at no charge for the Toledo family, who live 30 miles away on the Navajo Nation Reservation. That’s because Tyson is covered by Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor…”
  • California Medicaid expansion enrolled hundreds of thousands of ineligible people, federal report finds, By Chad Terhune, March 26, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s chief watchdog…”
  • Utah governor signs Medicaid expansion bill. Now, Utah waits to see if the feds will approve it., By Luke Ramseth, March 28, 2018, Salt Lake Tribune: “Gov. Gary Herbert signed a measure Tuesday to give more than 70,000 needy Utahns access to government health coverage, ending years of failed attempts on Capitol Hill to expand Medicaid in the state. But whether House Bill 472 ever takes effect still remains uncertain. Under President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Utah law needs approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has sent mixed signals on whether it will fully sign off…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating aid program saved, expanded in Trump budget, By David Sharp (AP), March 24, 2018, Spokesman-Review: “A federal heating aid program for low-income residents has survived another attempt by President Donald Trump to kill it. The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $3.64 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The energy assistance funding includes an extra $250 million, the first increase in five years…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

Thousands of families are eligible for child care subsidies. Actually getting them? Good luck., By Priska Neely, March 27, 2018, Southern California Public Radio: “When her son Jeremiah was born, Bertha Terrones spent weeks calling centers to find care. Eventually, after months passed, she went to visit in person. ‘You feel helpless, like, you’re watching and can’t do anything about it because there’s no progress,’ said Terrones, in Spanish. ‘The programs aren’t reaching the cities where these services are needed most.’  Terrones, who lives in Cudahy, in southeast L.A. County, spent more than a year on a waitlist. Tens of thousands of families across L.A. County face similar experiences. While 51 percent of babies and toddlers in the county are eligible for state-subsidized child care programs, only 6 percent of these children are served, according to new analysis by Advancement Project California, released on Tuesday…”

Criminal Justice Reform – Kentucky

In Kentucky, all sides agree on need for criminal justice reform. But how?, By Henry Gass, March 15, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “In 2009, both Tahiesha Howard and the state of Kentucky were looking for a fresh start. Ms. Howard’s childhood was such a blur of dysfunction and addiction she says she couldn’t remember her first drink of alcohol. By her 30s, one judge labeled the mother a ‘menace to society.’  Kentucky, meanwhile, had become a poster child for ineffective and unsustainable mass incarceration – its prison system growing at quadruple the national average despite a consistently low crime rate…”

Home Loan Discrimination

Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today., By Tracy Jan, March 28, 2018, Washington Post: “Racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the 1930s shaped the demographic and wealth patterns of American communities today, a new study shows, with 3 out of 4 neighborhoods ‘redlined’ on government maps 80 years ago continuing to struggle economically. The study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, released Wednesday, shows that the vast majority of neighborhoods marked ‘hazardous’ in red ink on maps drawn by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. from 1935 to 1939 are today much more likely than other areas to comprise lower-income, minority residents…”