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USDA proposes new rule for SNAP program work requirements

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a new rule tightening regulations over Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirement waivers. The new rule would only grant waivers to SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) if the unemployment rate in certain areas was over 7 percent. The rule also prevents states from combining areas of high and low unemployment to receive waivers for larger geographic areas. Previously, USDA granted waivers to states containing areas with unemployment rates 20 percent above the national average. 
The USDA proposed the rule as a response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13828, which directed agencies to strengthen work requirements for work-capable individuals receiving benefits from public assistance programs. The executive order asked agencies to review regulations and guidance documents to see whether they increased self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility.
Proposed rules are preliminary versions of a prospective federal agency regulation. If an agency determines that a new regulation is necessary, the agency develops a proposed rule for publication in the Federal Register. After a period of public comment, the agency may determine to revise the proposed rule, abandon the proposal, or move forward to the final rule stage of the rulemaking process.
An executive order is a formal command handed down from the president to federal agencies within the executive branch. While executive orders are legally binding, they are not laws; they are instructions on how the executive branch ought to enforce the law. These instructions must line up with existing U.S. laws and the U.S. Constitution.
Executive orders differ from other types of executive action, namely presidential proclamations and presidential memorandums. Unlike executive orders, presidential memorandums are not numbered or cataloged, and they do not require the president to cite any authority for their issuance. Proclamations direct the actions of individuals rather than government agencies and are often ceremonial. 

Local recalls headline Ballotpedia’s year-end recall report

Recall efforts targeting local officials in Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin topped Ballotpedia’s list of notable recall efforts in 2018. Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 officials this year. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled and 46 survived the attempt. This year’s recall efforts had a success rate of 63 percent. Recall efforts in 2016 and 2017 both had a success rate of 56 percent, in comparison. City council officials and school board members drew the most recall petitions in 2018. A total of 93 city council officials and 74 school board members were targeted for recall in 2018. 
For the first time in three years, a state other than California held the highest number of recall efforts in 2018. Michigan took over the top spot with 65 recall efforts. California (61) and Arizona (27) were second and third in total recall efforts.
The report’s notable recalls included efforts targeting two school boards, four township officials, and two county officials. An example of those efforts was in Saugatuck Township, Michigan. Town Clerk Brad Rudich, Town Treasurer Lori Babinski, Town Trustee Douglas Lane, and Town Trustee Roy McIlwaine were targeted for recall due to their vote to reprimand Township Manager Aaron Sheridan instead of removing him. Another township supervisor, Jon Phillips, had accused Sheridan of threatening behavior involving public officials, abusive language, and indecent conduct. Phillips motioned to have Sheridan dismissed as manager, but no other board members seconded the motion. The board then unanimously approved a motion to reprimand Sheridan and include that reprimand in his permanent personnel file. Rudich, Babinski, Lane, and McIlwaine were all successfully recalled. 

Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan will not seek re-election in 2018

Congress Rick Nolan (D), who represents Minnesota 8th Congressional District, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of his current term and not seek re-election in 2018. Nolan was elected to his current seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. Nolan was one of nine individuals elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 who had prior congressional experience. He served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1974 to 1980. Three candidates have filed to run in primaries for Nolan’s seat.

As of February 9, a total of 50 current representatives have announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018. Of those 50, 34 are Republicans and 16 are Democrats.