Black Unemployment

Lowest ever black jobless rate is still twice that of whites, By Natalie Kitroeff and Ben Casselman, February 23, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump celebrated the milestone on Twitter and in his State of the Union address. The unemployment rate for black Americans had hit its lowest point on record, a sign that the recovery was at last reaching groups that had been left behind. But the achievement was bittersweet: Black joblessness was still roughly twice the rate for whites…”

State Medicaid Programs – Kentucky, Kansas

Cash Bail System

  • What happened when New Jersey stopped relying on cash bail, By Maddie Hanna, February 16, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “One year into New Jersey’s nationally watched overhaul of its bail system, the state’s pretrial jail population has dropped 20 percent as courts have all but stopped setting cash bail…”
  • Philadelphia DA drops cash bail for ‘low-level’ crimes, By Anthony Izaguirre (AP), February 21, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia’s top prosecutor said Wednesday his office will stop jailing people who cannot afford to pay cash bail in minor criminal cases, affirming the commitment of the country’s fifth-largest city to a national movement that argues the practice targets poor Americans…”

Renters and Eviction

  • Landlord battles haunt Twin Cities low-income renters, By Max Nesterak, February 22, 2018, Minnesota Public Radio: “Lakesha Davis and her fiance Steven Perkins thought they’d finally landed a home, a house in St. Paul that offered a fresh start for them and four of their kids. Years earlier, they’d been forced from their north Minneapolis home after a grandson’s blood tests came back showing elevated lead levels. The landlord evicted them, Davis said, after the child’s pediatrician alerted a city housing inspector…”
  • When faced with eviction, African-American women in Madison struggle to find rent help, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, February 17, 2018, Cap Times: “Last December when Brandice Hatcher was eight months pregnant, she came home to an eviction notice…”

Public Defender System – Missouri

Some Missouri lawmakers want to privatize the public defender system. For one county, it starts March 1., By Sky Chadde, February 20, 2018, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Next month, when poor people are charged with crimes in one southern Missouri county, a private attorney will represent them — even if they can’t afford it. That’s because the Missouri State Public Defender has decided to completely privatize Texas County. Starting March 1, if a defendant is deemed indigent, judges there will contract with private lawyers, with the state footing the bill, according to Michael Barrett, director for the public defender office…”

Payday Lending – Colorado

Payday loans have average interest rates of 129% in Colorado. A ballot measure proposes capping them., By Brian Eason, February 21, 2018, Denver Post: “With a growing body of research showing that a prior round of reforms did not eliminate abuses in the payday-lending business in Colorado, reform supporters are now looking to ask voters to limit interest rates on the short-term loans…”

Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Work for it. What Trump’s tough new Medicaid rules mean., By Benjy Sarlin, February 20, 2018, NBC News: “Every day that Steve Olshewsky can convince himself to get out of bed and face the world is a small victory in his eyes. After a series of panic attacks forced him out of work in 2009, Olshewsky returned to his hometown to recover with family. He’s made great strides since then, thanks to medication and his work at Participation Station, a peer-run outpatient clinic for serious mental illness. There, he sits in on group sessions, teaches tai chi to members, and talks clients through rough days on the clinic phone line. But Olshewsky, who pays for his prescriptions through Medicaid, could soon have to prove he deserves to keep his coverage under a new set of restrictions on able-bodied Medicaid recipients. The Trump administration approved the rules in January through a waiver program that allows states to experiment with changes to Medicaid…”
  • Should Medicaid come with work requirements? Ohio says yes, By Kaitlin Schroeder, February 20, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio for the first time is seeking federal approval to create job requirements as a condition to qualify for Medicaid. Most Ohio residents enrolled through the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, are already working or would be exempt because of things like their age, disability or care taking responsibilities…”

Bail Reform

  • New Jersey claims bail-reform a success, cites huge drop in jail population, By Peter Krouse, February 13, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One year after sweeping criminal-justice reforms became law in New Jersey, the state has “successfully transformed an antiquated money bail system into a modern risk-based system,” the state’s courts reported Tuesday…”
  • Could Dallas’ bail system be deemed an ‘instrument of oppression’ after Houston ruling?, By Naomi Martin, February 16, 2018, Dallas News: “On the one hand, it was a kick in the gut.  But it was also a roadmap. That’s how Dallas County officials see a much-anticipated ruling by a federal appeals court on bail reform. For years, county leaders and judges have been in talks to overhaul the criminal bail system to make it easier for poor arrestees who aren’t dangerous to be released from jail while they await trial…”

Budget Proposal and Safety Net Programs

  • Trump’s budget hits poor Americans the hardest, By Tracy Jan, Caitlin Dewey and Jeff Stein, February 12, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work…”
  • Trump wants to end states’ power to make food stamps more accessible during recessions, By J.B. Wogan, February 14, 2018, Governing: “The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”
  • New study lauds food stamps’ anti-poverty impact as Trump weighs alternative, By Steve Goldstein, February 15, 2018, MarketWatch: “As the Trump administration weighs slashing and dramatically reshaping the food-stamp program, a new study finds the program dramatically cuts the poverty rate. The Urban Institute released a study on what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps…”
  • Trump’s proposal to end heating assistance called dangerous for rural Minnesotans, seniors, By Maya Rao and Jim Spencer, February 14, 2018, Star Tribune: “In northwestern Minnesota, Corann Fladhammer has relied on $1,400 in federal assistance to heat her home as temperatures plunged in recent months. Without it, she said, it would be difficult for seniors like her to stay in their homes…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Trump’s historic Medicaid shift goes beyond work requirements, By Michael Ollove, February 16, 2018, Stateline: “Requiring able-bodied adults to work for their Medicaid is just part of the Trump administration’s drive to remake the decades-old health insurance program for the poor. The administration signaled late last year that it welcomes state-based ideas to retool Medicaid and ‘help individuals live up to their highest potential.’ At least 10 states have requested waivers that would allow them to impose work requirements and other obligations…”
  • Bevin’s Medicaid changes actually mean Kentucky will pay more to provide health care, By Deborah Yetter, February 14, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “Within Gov. Matt Bevin’s complex plan to reshape the state Medicaid program to cut costs and hold people accountable is this fact that may surprise some Kentuckians: Under Bevin’s plan, it actually will cost Kentucky more to provide health coverage to people affected by the Medicaid changes than if the state did nothing…”

Minimum Wage – St. Paul, MN

As St. Paul considers a minimum wage increase, some want to exempt youth workers, By Frederick Melo, February 16, 2018, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “Cookie Cart produces more than just delicious snickerdoodle, chocolate chip and hand-decorated cookies. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit also claims to ‘bake bright futures’ by training low-income teenagers in every aspect of the business, from marketing to distribution, on top of soft skills such as business etiquette and résumé-building…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

Housing Subsidies

Revised federal housing subsidies offer mobility to low-income residents, By Carey L.  Biron, February 13, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Tiara Moore, a public school bus aide, has been living with her uncle and young daughter in a high-crime, high-poverty part of Chicago – and she’s wanted to move. Her top choice is DuPage County, just outside Chicago and closer to where her mother lives, but moving has not been easy because the size of the housing assistance she receives from the federal government has limited her choices…”

Foster Care Payments to Relatives – Kentucky

Kentucky will finally make foster care payments owed to relatives raising children, By Deborah Yetter, February 13, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “In a move that will help relatives providing foster care for hundreds of Kentucky children, state officials announced Tuesday they will begin making payments to those relatives under a federal court ruling that became final almost four months ago…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Medicaid bill would require ‘able-bodied’ Iowa adults to work or study, By Tony Leys, February 7, 2018, Des Moines Register: “In order to qualify for Medicaid health insurance, ‘able-bodied’ Iowans would have to work at a job or attend school or job training under a bill introduced recently in the Legislature. Under the bill, Iowa would join several other states in seeking federal permission to implement such work requirements on Medicaid, which is jointly financed and run by federal and state governments…”
  • Medicaid work requirement wouldn’t change much in Louisiana, February 7, 2018, New Orleans Times Picayune: “Even though requiring Medicaid recipients to work is one of the few areas in which Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican legislators agree, experts say implementing the rules may not have much of an impact…”

Unemployment Benefits – North Carolina, Kentucky

  • NC has country’s smallest unemployment benefits – but a $3 billion fund, By Colin Campbell, February 8, 2018, News and Observer: “People without jobs in North Carolina receive some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country and receive payments for a shorter time than in nearly every other state, according to a new report. A 2013 state law cut both the size and duration of unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Lawmakers said they made the change because the trust fund that pays for the program had a $2 billion deficit…”
  • Unemployed and out of luck. Plan would cut benefits for out-of-work Kentuckians, By Daniel Desrochers, February 8, 2018, Lexington Herald Leader: “A proposal in the Kentucky legislature would eliminate or reduce unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of out-of-work Kentuckians each year, boosting the bottom lines of businesses by forcing the unemployed to live on less…”

 

School Funding – Connecticut

In school funding fight, Connecticut weighs uncertain next steps, By J. Brian Charles, February 7, 2018, Governing: “Connecticut is the richest state in the country. And like all affluent states, Connecticut pours billions into education each year. Only the District of Columbia and two other states (Alaska and New York) spend more per student. But for all the money Connecticut spends, it can’t seem to close the gap between students in the richest districts in the state (places like Greenwich, Westport, Avon and Farmington) and the poorest districts in the largest cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport…”

Suburban Poverty and Access to Health Care

Upsurge of suburban poor discover health care’s nowhere land, By Elaine Korry, February 9, 2018, Washington Post: “The promise of cheaper housing brought Shari Castaneda to Palmdale, Calif., in northern Los Angeles County, about nine years ago. The single mom with five kids had been struggling to pay the bills. ‘I kept hearing that the rent was a lot cheaper out here, so I moved,’ she said. But when she developed health problems — losing her balance and falling — Castaneda found fewer care options in her new town. Unable to find local specialty care, she traveled nearly 65 miles to a public hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors discovered a tumor on her spine…”

Bail Reform

  • Atlanta mayor signs new ordinance changing cash bail system in a nod to the needy, By Rhonda Cook, February 5, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for some low-level offenders who otherwise would sit in jail because they can’t afford bail…”
  • Delaware strengthens bail reform movement, By J. B. Wogan, January 29, 2018, Governing: “Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill late last week that places the state among a small group that has moved away from cash bail. ‘You have poor people who pose no risk of flight or no risk to the community incarcerated on a full-time basis before trial,’ says Delaware state Sen. Bryan Townsend, a co-sponsor of the bill. ‘That’s not at all what the criminal justice system is supposed to be about.’ On any given day, jails across the country house some 700,000 people — many of whom are there because they can’t afford to pay bail…”