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In Case You Missed It…

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 4:27pm

This week at CBPP, we focused on health, housing, and the economy.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

2019 Bill Largely Sustains 2018 HUD Funding Gains

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 3:07pm

The 2019 government funding bill that President Trump signed into law today sustains most of the substantial funding increases of 2018 for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, and it includes funding to further expand the number of new housing vouchers and other rental assistance.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

HUD Funding Bill Will Launch Housing Voucher Mobility Demonstration

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 10:47am

The 2019 funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes funds for an important initiative, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) mobility demonstration.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

The Law Library of Congress Rare Book Curator Displays New Acquisitions – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 8:37am

On February 12, 2019, Law Library Rare Book Curator Nathan Dorn joined colleagues from across the Library of Congress to showcase new treasures that the Library acquired over the past year. The Law Library’s new acquisitions that were on display included a land grant from William Penn, Harry Truman’s law school notebook, a document related to the Treaty of Ghent, and two medieval manuscripts.

Law Library of Congress Rare Book Curator Nathan Dorn. Photo by Barbara Bavis.

A land grant from William Penn. Photo by Barbara Bavis.

This land grant is a charter signed and sealed by the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, granting 500 acres of land in Pennsylvania to an Englishman named John Dwight of Fulham. The land was located in Middlesex County, though it is not believed that Dwight ever settled the land.

Harry Truman’s law school notebook. Photo by Barbara Bavis.

Harry Truman took notes in this notebook while he attended law school classes between 1924 and 1925 at the Kansas City School of Law. Truman started law school after he was elected to a two-year term as a Judge of County Court in Jackson County, Missouri. Ultimately Truman found that his work for the county did not leave him with enough time for his law school studies, and he did not complete the program.


Categories: Research & Litigation

Options to Reduce State Medicaid Costs: Managed Care Medical Loss Ratio

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:40pm

States, which jointly fund Medicaid along with the federal government, frequently seek ways to decrease their Medicaid costs in order to expand coverage, add new benefits, or fund the ongoing operations of their programs.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

An Interview with Jane Sánchez, Law Librarian of Congress and Acting Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 9:30am

Jane Sánchez. Law Librarian of Congress and Acting Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services. Photo by Donna Sokol.

Can you tell us about you and about your career path leading to your current role(s)?

I came to the Library of Congress in November of 2014, when I began as the Chief of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division.  I assumed the position of Law Librarian of Congress in February of 2017, and also serve as Acting Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services since October 1, 2018.

I have worked in libraries and information management my entire career—since my undergraduate days at the University of New Mexico. Upon graduation, I worked at two libraries at Harvard UniversityLamont, the undergraduate library, and at the Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library. My first experience with legal materials came when I was working as a manager for a judicial opinions unit at BNA, Inc.  We acquired slip opinions from federal and state courts, and I supported the legal editors by supplying them with slip opinions that met their subject areas. Later, I wrote a proposal for a source-material management system. This system became a repository for all primary legal documents coming into the company, including court slip opinions, state Attorney General opinions, state laws, state regulations, etc. In fact, the system has only recently been retired, some 20+ years later.

I received my JD from American University’s Washington College of Law and my MLS from Simmons College in Boston.  Following my time at BNA, Inc., I also served as a business unit managing director at the U.S. Government Publishing Office, an Associate Director of Justice Libraries at the U.S. Department of Justice, and, finally, department head, History and Culture libraries at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, before joining the Library of Congress in 2014.

I have been a member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) since my BNA days, serving on both the Government Law Libraries Special Interest Section (SIS) and the Government Documents SIS.

What might a typical workday look like for you?

I manage the policy and operations of the Law Library of Congress, which contains the world’s largest collection of legal materials. First and foremost, we support Congress, so I make sure we are supporting members with the legal resources to assist them in executing their constitutional duties. As you can imagine, our days ebb and flow with the rhythm of the activities of Congress: if they are pulling an all-night session, the Law Library remains open until the final gavel falls. We are always at the ready to provide any information a member of Congress needs.  One day, they could ask our foreign law specialists about fees charged for asylum applications, and the next day, we could receive a request to borrow a rare book for a swearing-in ceremony. In supporting the public, we receive so many interesting and varied research topics every single day, so it is hard to say what are typical requests. Finally, the Law Library is acquiring and digitizing a number of primary legal documents to make them freely available (at no cost) to the world.

When I worked at the Department of Justice (DOJ) library, I referred foreign legal research questions to the Law Library of Congress. At a time when the National Security Division was being stood up, we were receiving many questions that required foreign legal expertise. I triaged foreign law reference questions from DOJ attorneys and referred them to the Law Library. In addition, on one occasion, the Law Library found an expert witness for us.

Now as Law Librarian, I see first-hand how crucial our work is in safeguarding the world’s historical and current legal materials. We must remain a leader in foreign, comparative, and international law research, with an unparalleled collection. The Law Library’s collection is approximately 60 percent foreign legal materials, and the foreign law specialists possess expertise to answer the toughest questions for some 240 jurisdictions. In addition, we have had a number of foreign visitors remark that our collection exceeds what they have back home.

Since October, I have also been managing the Library Collections and Services Group (LCSG).  The LCSG brought together three units responsible for acquiring, stewarding, describing and serving library collections – Library Services, National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the Law Library. The LCSG also includes the John W. Kluge Center and LC’s Internship and Fellowship Programs. Therefore, you can just imagine what my workdays are like. They are anything but typical.

For library students and young librarians that might be interested in going into librarianship in a specialized area like law, what advice would you have? What kind of experience is important?

I would encourage library students to start with internships in the public and/or private sector, to discover what they like, what kind of work and work environment motivates them. New law librarians should take a chance and try different roles–either functional ones within their library or leadership roles within an association.

In my own career, I have been a cataloger, created back-of-the-book indexes, developed and created databases, assigned metadata, been a reference librarian, and I have worked for a legal publisher and many different types of libraries, both inside and outside the federal government. Also, I suggest novice librarians build a support network early on; you never know who may assist you later in your career. Finally, consider public service! Public service offers opportunities to apply your knowledge in ways that may surprise you, allowing you to stretch beyond single areas of law.

What have you most enjoyed about being a librarian and a law librarian in particular?

What I find most enjoyable about the synthesis of law and librarianship are the many chances to apply strategies from both skill sets to “big-picture” challenges and everyday issues. It is very challenging, but also very rewarding.  There’s something new to learn and teach every day. I always smile when people ask me, “Is it boring to be a librarian?”  Never! Librarians are problem solvers, researchers, detectives, acquiring agents, information literacy teachers, and so much more, all in one.

What aspects of library work have you found most interesting and/or most challenging?

The perception that books, libraries, and librarians are not essential because the internet has all of the information students and educators need. It is interesting, because it is wrong.  It is also challenging, because we have to constantly keep proving and explaining our knowledge, our values, and our contribution to the community.

As a librarian or a law librarian, you should always be marketing your library’s services to users in your immediate organization (if you are part of a large institution), outside patrons, or determining others who could benefit from your collections and services. This task is also interesting and challenging, and we all do it on daily basis.

Do you have a favorite item from the Library’s collections? What is your favorite item in our rare (law) books collection?

Thomas Jefferson’s Library and George Washington’s copy of the Acts of the First Session of the First Congress under the Federal Constitution of 1789.

What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

Here are two or three:

I have a twin brother–I come from a family of nine children, with three sets of twins!

I like watching mysteries. I have just recently discovered “Bordertown” (a Finnish TV series)and “Marcella” on Netflix. Highly entertaining!

I also am a fiction reader–give me anything, and I’m hooked.

Any final thoughts?

In today’s world of search engines and myriad webpages, some have questioned the future of libraries and librarians.  The award-winning fantasy author Neil Gaiman coined an insightful saying on this topic: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”  Finally, librarians should not fear change, but embrace it enthusiastically. Change is not the enemy; done right, it can lead to real progress.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Utah Medicaid Law Will Leave Large Coverage Gaps

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 5:35pm

Utah policymakers this week enacted Senate Bill 96, repealing a voter-backed ballot initiative (Proposition 3) to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide health coverage to 150,000 Utahns.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

An Interview with Kelly McKenna, Program Specialist for the Office of External Relations

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:16am

Kelly McKenna is a Program Specialist with the Law Library’s Office of External Relations. [Photo by Geraldine Dávila González]

Describe your background.

I grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and lived in Ithaca, New York, while attending college. In 2011, I spent six months in Amsterdam, where I studied Dutch culture and took classes at the University of Amsterdam and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. In 2012, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I lived until recently relocating to nearby Hyattsville, Maryland.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have a B.A. in culture and communication from Ithaca College with minors in art history and communication, management, and design. I realized early on that my degree alone, especially in the humanities, would not put me on any practical career path. At the time, I was interested in a career in arts management and decided to pursue internship experiences in development and communications. During my internships at the Watermill Center in New York and Fringe Arts in Philadelphia, I gained experience and a passion for some of the same skills that I use here at the Law Library of Congress— tailoring messaging and developing programs to engage our audiences.

After college I secured a position at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as the Georgetown Campus Administrator. When the college was taken over by George Washington University in 2014, I moved to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection as the Program Coordinator for Pre-Columbian Studies. There I spent over four years managing academic programs and publications that brought me to Panama, Chile, and Colombia where we co-hosted workshops with international partners. During this time I also began my M.A. in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on outreach and communications. My graduate research on audience behavior and program evaluation has informed my work in the Office of External Relations at the Law Library, where I began my current position as Program Specialist in June 2018.

How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

As part of the External Relations team, I promote the services of the Law Library through public programs, professional visits, communications, and outreach initiatives. I am interested in measuring our impact to determine how to best engage our audiences in the public, academic, and private sectors. I also recently completed the Library’s excellent docent training program, and am qualified to give tours of the Thomas Jefferson building.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

When I saw an opening in the Office of External Relations, I thought it would be rewarding to apply my experience in programming for cultural institutions here at the Law Library. Many of the same principles of audience engagement are relevant. I had the opportunity to put some of these theories to the test when we incorporated an interactive trivia game at the Law Library’s National Book Festival table. This engaging component encouraged visitors to stay at our table longer while learning about the Law Library’s services, programs, and resources.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

This past July, I was excited to learn that the Law Library would be entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with an institution I visited during my time in the Netherlands. On July 18th, the Law Library signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Peace Palace Library of The Hague. This MOU encourages both libraries to share information about research methods and techniques as well as collection development.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

For four years, I worked as a DJ for the Ithaca College radio station, 92 WICB. The station has a modern rock format, and I hosted a specialty show called Eve Out Loud featuring all female artists.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Proposed Restrictions Could Undermine Montana’s Successful Medicaid Expansion

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 4:41pm

Montana’s Medicaid expansion has been extremely successful, extending coverage and access to care to nearly 95,000 low-income adults since January 2016 and connecting many with workforce development services.[1] But Montana policymakers are reportedly considering proposals to take Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet a work requirement, charge low-income adults high premiums, and make eligibility contingent on completing extra paperwork related to their job readiness and health status.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Roundup: Administration Efforts to Sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 4:29pm

Ahead of today’s House subcommittee hearing on bills to “reverse ACA sabotage and ensure pre-existing conditions protections,” here are our recent pieces on some of the major issues involved.

Expanding Skimpy Short-Term Health Plans

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

CBO: Administration’s Short-Term Plans Rule Means a Return to Pre-ACA Practices

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 10:29am

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will consider legislation tomorrow to curb so-called “short-term” health plans, which are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty New, Tip, and Top for February 2019

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 11:32am

In January, Robert announced the first version of the new Committee Schedule that we have been working on.  It is a great way to see quickly which meetings and hearings the House and Senate committees have scheduled for the week.

Chamber of Origin Filter now higher and open by default

New Enhancements for February 2019

You can find all of the Enhancements for February and before on our site.  What is new this month?

Enhancement – Chamber of Origin filter – Open by default

  • The Chamber of Origin filter on search results has been moved higher on the page and is open by default so you can quickly limit your results to measures from one chamber.

Search Tip

The week’s search tip is how to “Modify Saved Searches for a New Congress.”

This week, our tip focuses on easy ways to modify your saved searches to have them run against the new congress, and to continue to receive alerts for those searches.

  1. Log into your account, using the red Sign In link at the top right of the homepage.
  2. Go to your Saved Searches page. On the Saved Search that you want to modify, select Edit Search. This will open the search form.
  3. On the search form, switch the Congress by unchecking the prior Congress and checking the new one. Then click Search.
  4. On the search results page, notice the result set and new result count. Also notice (Edited) next to your saved search name. Click on Save this Search to save the changes, and click the Save button on the pop-up box to save the search.
  5. A pop-up box appears asking you to confirm if you want to overwrite the existing saved search. Click Yes to save your old search with the new Congress selection.

Your modified saved search is now saved in your Saved Searches page, the search will now run against the new Congress, and you will continue to receive alerts about any activity on your search in the new Congress.

A note - if you do not already have a account set up, and would like to create one to save and receive alerts on your searches, you can go to to create your account. Detailed instructions are available at:

Most Viewed Bills

For the week of February 3, 2019, the latest Most-Viewed Bills on include the following.

1. H.R.790 [116th] Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019 2. H.R.1 [116th] For the People Act of 2019 3. H.J.Res.28 [116th] Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 4. S.1 [116th] Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 5. H.R.1 [115th] An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018. 6. S.66 [116th] Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 7. H.R.8 [116th] Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 8. H.R.420 [116th] Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act 9. H.R.25 [116th] FairTax Act of 2019 10. H.R.648 [116th] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019

If you have any comments or feedback on, please feel free to share it with us.

Categories: Research & Litigation

In Case You Missed It...

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 4:30pm

This week at CBPP, we focused on food assistance, state budgets and taxes, health, and the economy.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Unproven, Costly Child Support Cooperation Requirements in SNAP Put Families at Risk

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:08pm

There’s strong overlap between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Child Support program, which both improve the health and well-being of millions of low-income children. The Child Support program serves the vast majority of eligible low-income families, but some children do not receive support from their non-residential parent.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Child Support Cooperation Requirements in SNAP Are Unproven, Costly, and Put Families at Risk

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 10:50am

State policymakers contemplating a cooperation mandate would benefit from considering the many arguments against the policy and the significant downside risks.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Millionaires’ Taxes a Smart Way for States to Invest in Their Future

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 10:27am

With the 2019 legislative season starting in most states, some states are discussing whether to raise personal income tax rates on their highest-income households (sometimes called a “millionaires’ tax”) to help fund schools, infrastructure, and other public investments. Our new report shows why that makes sense.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

More States Protecting Residents Against Skimpy Short-Term Health Plans

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 4:40pm

Since the Trump Administration issued new rules last year expanding short-term health plans, which are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing conditions and benefit standards, nearly a dozen states have set their own limits and consumer protections for short-term plans. Others should follow suit.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Interview with Geraldine Dávila González, Program Specialist for the Office of External Relations

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 2:01pm

Geraldine Dávila González is a Program Specialist with the Law Library’s Office of External Relations. [Photo by Shawn Miller]

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico. I have a huge family on both sides from all across Puerto Rico, and we love to spend time together every time I go back. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and immediately moved to Washington, D.C. in June 2017. Moving to Washington was a world of firsts for me–my first time living on my own, my first time seeing snow, and even my first time ever being in the District.

 What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated summa cum laude from University of Sacred Heart (Universidad del Sagrado Corazón) in Puerto Rico with a BA in general communications and a minor in public relations. Currently I am working on my MPS in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. Before interning in different government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I was a junior account executive for 3.14 Public Relations, where I worked with everything from event planning, to writing for press, social media, image consulting, and promotions. I started working as a program specialist here at the Law Library of Congress in June 2018.

 How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

I promote the Law Library of Congress and all of its services through different channels, including events, social media, and traditional media. We also create promotional materials for the Law Library such as photography, handouts, giveaways, and writing. I write for In Custodia Legis, the blog where you are reading this interview and where I contribute my outsider’s perspective on law topics, since I’m not a lawyer.

 Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I worked at the Library of Congress previously as an intern in the Learning and Innovation Office, formerly known as Educational Outreach. During my time as an intern, I realized that I really loved the culture of working at the Library of Congress and when I saw an opportunity to come back, I jumped on it immediately. In addition, I find it fascinating to learn about the history of the space I set foot in every day, and the different backgrounds of people that you meet while working here is truly magnificent.

 What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

Definitely the most interesting fact for me about the Law Library so far is that the span of the collection, which is roughly around 3 million items, is enough to fill two football fields in closed stacks.

 What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I’m not quite sure if anyone outside my dear team at the Office of External Relations knows this, but I am a mezzo and a trained musical theater performer. I have been performing as a hobby, with a couple of professional shows that sneaked in there, for almost 10 years. Some of those shows include West Side Story, Cats, Chicago, The Sound of Music, and Aladdin.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Impact of the Administration’s Policies Affecting the Affordable Care Act

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 5:39pm

Testimony of Aviva Aron-Dine before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Raising State Income Tax Rates at the Top a Sensible Way to Fund Key Investments

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 3:46pm

Evidence indicates it can generate substantial revenue for public investments that boost a state’s productivity in the long run, without harming economic growth in the short term.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty


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