Capitol Comments

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the national poverty rate fell from 15.0 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013 - the first time the rate has fallen in eight years. The poverty rate for children under 18 also declined in 2013 for the first time since 2000 - from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.

Voter ID laws in two states - Wisconsin and Texas - were dealt a blow yesterday by the courts. In Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling by blocking the state from implementing a law requiring all registered voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls. The Court issued a one-page order noting the troubling consequences for a jurisdiction to change election rules so close to the upcoming midterm elections.

With less than a month before the November 4th midterm elections, voting laws in eight states are being challenged in state and federal courts, often times going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Department of Labor has awarded $14,837,785 in grants to six states - California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and South Dakota - to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities as part of the Disability Employment Initiative. The initiative awards grants to help increase the participation of adults and youth with disabilities in existing career pathway systems and other programs that bring together educational insitutions, the private sector and disability advocates. 

Researchers at the Center for American Progress estimate that hunger costs the U.S. at least $167.5 billion every year based on a combination of lost economic productivity, increased education expenses, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity.