Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced USDA is hosting a series of monthly roundtables on opioids through the summer. “The opioid epidemic in rural communities is more than a public health issue,” Hazlett said. “This is a matter of rural prosperity. Opioid misuse is impacting the quality of life and economic well-being in small towns, which is why partnering with rural leaders to address this crisis is critical to the future of rural America.”Beginning this month, Hazlett will convene regional roundtables to bring together partners in five states to raise awareness and better understand what support rural communities need to address opioid misuse. Key topics will include challenges associated with substance use disorder; strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery; and how these measures can be replicated to effectively address the epidemic in other rural communities.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed that it is considering removing language about anti-discrimination efforts from its mission statement. The agency confirmed that a leaked draft of the new mission statement reads "HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation."
The federal agency charged with processing immigration applications to the United States slashed the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna announced the agency’s new mission statement in a staff-wide email. “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values,” the new mission statement reads.
Tony Tooke, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, stepped down from his post following reports of sexual harassment and retaliation at the agency that revealed the Agriculture Department was investigating misconduct allegations against Tooke himself. Tooke, who was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in August, announced his resignation in an email to employees.
States across the country argue that if Washington loses Supreme Court case, land uses from coast-to-coast will be vulnerable to lawsuits. Eleven states from around the U.S. argue that if Washington loses its case in the U.S. Supreme Court over culverts, land-use rules across the country will be at risk of being subordinate to tribal treaty rights. The states, led by Idaho, filed a brief with the high court March 2 supporting Washington’s appeal of a court order to replace more than 800 fish-blocking culverts. The order provides a script for challenging anything that could harm tribal fishing and hunting in their states, according to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and colleagues.
A federal proposal to replace food stamps with what is called "America's Harvest Boxes" is worrying some small grocers in towns across the nation. President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget includes a proposed change to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, most often referred to as food stamps. The program would trade food stamps for boxes of food."On reading about this federal proposal it does concern us in that we are a meal program that does accept food stamps from clients," Carolyn Fox with Mobile Meals of Toledo said. "A lot of them pay with their food stamps and that's all of their food stamps so hopefully they could still use those totally to support their meal program, because these people aren't people that could go out and like I said get food."Many small grocers say exchanging food stamps for "America's Harvest Boxes" could hurt not only their bottom line, but also shoppers' nutrition.
Despite pushback from the House and Senate on a similar proposal released last year, the Trump administration again recommends doing away with a majority of the nation’s rural housing programs.
American solar company SunPower will lay off about 3 percent of its workforce in March, a decision that comes after President Trump began imposing new tariffs on imported solar materials earlier this month. SunPower has already started the process of laying off between 150 and 250 workers, largely from its research and development and marketing positions, CEO Tom Werner told The Hill. The cuts will amount to about a 10 decrease in operational expenses.
A group of Democratic state attorneys general has taken 80 legal actions against the Trump administration over environmental policies, and is promising even more. A report released by a group helping the attorneys general outlined the lawsuits and other actions in areas like greenhouse gas pollution, energy efficiency, methane, water pollution, ozone and more, often resulting in victories. Four of the attorneys general told reporters that they will not relent in their legal fights.
Researchers found that in 99 percent of counties those meals regularly cost more than even the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In Manhattan, for instance — home to nearly a quarter-million food-stamp recipients — SNAP allows $1.86 per meal, while the average meal costs $3.96. The reports add to a growing body of evidence that SNAP benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. In light of the Trump administration’s calls to reduce spending in the program, advocates are pointing to studies like this to argue that the program cannot take further reductions.