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Last month, after much debate, Congress began implementing it's budget cut plan to reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program otherwise known as SNAP. The program provides monetary help for families in poverty and alleviates food insecurity. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is used by approximately 47 million Americans. But with funding reductions and bans for convicted felons many people wonder how Americans will finally be able to climb out of poverty.
It was a big week for voters both nationally and locally with the Voting Rights Act of 2014 bill being introduced in Congress and a Pennsylvania state judge striking down the Commonwealth's Voter ID law as unconstitutional.
A cutoff of benefits for the long-term unemployed has left more than 1.3 million Americans with a stressful decision: What now? Without their unemployment checks, many will abandon what had been a futile search and will no longer look for a job — an exodus that could dwarf the 347,000 Americans who stopped seeking work in December. Beneficiaries have been required to look for work to receive unemployment checks.
The Alabama State Legislature introduced a campaign that will aim to decrease infant mortality on Friday. The "State of Champions — Alabama's Campaign for Healthy Babies" is meant to help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies, reduce the cost of ongoing healthcare needs of children and adults with special needs and disabilities, and improve the health of newborns and mothers by facilitating healthy spacing between pregnancies. The campaign was introduced at a conference at the Alabama Activity Center
The surprisingly weak December jobs report might have strengthened Democrats' hand in the current fight over emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed even as it weakened the party in the larger midterm election battle. On Friday, the Labor Department said that the unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low of 6.7 percent. But the economy added only 74,000 jobs, and for every American who found work, five disappeared from the labor force.
For the first time, we are getting some demographic information about the more than 2 million people who have signed up for private health insurance through the exchanges set up by the federal government. The New York Times reports that the Obama administration said older, less healthy enrollees outnumber healthy, younger ones.
Monday, January 13, 2014

Gun wars to heat up in 2014

Both sides of the gun law debate have geared up to wage war across the country in 2014 using millions of dollars, midterm elections, opposing messaging strategies and dueling grass-roots campaigns. This year, groups will focus on pouring money into candidates that support their ideals and changing or upholding laws in hot spots such as Colorado, Washington and Illinois.
Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who counts as poor in America?

Homeless people without shelter from this week's frigid temperatures. Medicaid patients living out their days in a nursing home. Orphaned kids raised in foster homes. Or Dasani, the "invisible child" profiled in the New York Times five-day spread. Who among them counts as poor? Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson announced a legislative agenda to wage "unconditional war on poverty in America." But how do we know what poverty is in America?
Federal officials Wednesday released guidelines intended to help the nation's schools create discipline policies that would keep more students in class, avoid unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and reduce racial disparities in punishment. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. are scheduled to jointly discuss the new guidelines Wednesday at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, where they will participate in a roundtable conversation with students.
After four years of a fragile and uneven recovery, the U.S. job machine is likely to kick into high gear in 2014. Even recession-battered states such as Arizona and Florida are expected to generate jobs at a healthier clip. Overall, the U.S. economy is projected to generate 2.6 million jobs in 2014 year, up from 2.2 million last year, largely on the strength of the country's booming health care, energy and high-tech sectors.