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Author: Amanda Smith

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Countering Trump administration, a California legislator wants to ban work requirements for Medicaid

As states led by Republicans prepare to impose tough new conditions for Medicaid recipients with the Trump administration’s blessing, a California legislator wants to ensure no such requirements would be enacted here.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) has introduced a bill that would bar the state from asking the federal government’s permission to impose work or volunteer requirements in order for low-income residents to be eligible for Medicaid, known in California as Medi-Cal.

Last month, the Trump administration issued guidance that, for the first time in the program’s history, it would consider allowing states to enact work or community service requirements to qualify for Medicaid.

California Schools To Target Parents For School Lunch Debt, Not Kids

A new California law will put an end to shaming students for unpaid school lunch fees.

Michele Stillwell-Parvensky knows firsthand about school lunch shaming. When she was a kid in third grade she was denied meals for several days because the cafeteria records showed her mom hadn’t paid the lunch fee.

“I was probably hungry those days,” Stillwell-Parvensky said. “But what I remember the most vividly was being very embarrassed, thinking that I had done something wrong but not knowing what it was.”

It turned out to be a misunderstanding.

Read more here

We Stand for Racial Justice

In the wake of the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Western Center on Law & Poverty has issued a joint statement with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and other members of the Legal Impact Network.

We stand in solidarity with the Black community and other marginalized communities of color, and against the racialized violence and inequities that continue to plague our country. As an organization that works for and with our clients and partners to bring about the structural changes necessary to achieve real and lasting racial justice for the Black community and other communities of color, we renew our commitment to challenge our own biases and to work even harder to ensure that our advocacy in the courts, counties and capital is informed by and rooted in empowering and supporting those communities, and achieving equitable opportunities for all Californians.

Read our full statement, issued jointly with other legal advocates, here.


Court finds federal regulation denying food stamps to aged, blind and disabled persons illegal

July 11, 2016 – U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California, invalidating a 37-year-old U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation, ruled on July 1, 2016 that Californians with suspended SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits are entitled to receive SNAP (food stamp) assistance.

Hector Riojas, the plaintiff in Riojas v. Vilsak, was homeless and residing in Humboldt County. He received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) food benefits and subsequently applied for SSI disability benefits. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) provides support for aged, blind and disabled individuals who are poor. In California, SSI recipients also receive a small amount of money as a replacement for SNAP benefits and so are ineligible for SNAP.

Mr. Riojas was eventually granted SSI by the Social Security Administration but those payments were suspended when he began receiving additional income that made him ineligible for SSI. His income was still low-enough to qualify him for SNAP. Pursuant to the USDA regulation challenged in this lawsuit, Mr. Riojas was then terminated from food benefits and told to repay SNAP benefits he had received when the SSI was suspended – leaving him without food through either SSI or SNAP.

Mr. Riojas is represented by Legal Services of Northern California and Western Center.

View the press release here

Western Center Responds to Assembly Budget Vote to Repeal The Maximum Family Grant

Sacramento, March 31, 2016 – Today marked a critical step in ensuring children living at the deepest levels of poverty are no longer subject to a classist, racist, myth-driven law and are eligible for assistance to help them and their families build better lives.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services took action to repeal the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) policy in the CalWORKs program.

Read the press release here