Friday, January 24, 2020

Eagle Butte
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State & National News

State:

Temporary traffic devices to be placed during Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

STURGIS, SD – Due to the increase in traffic volumes expected during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the South Dakota Department of Transportation will activate temporary traffic signals at the following locations:

Junction of U.S. 14A and U.S. 85

Junction of S.D. 34/79 and Ft. Meade main entrance

Junction of S.D. 34 and S.D. 79 east of Sturgis

Junction of S.D. 34 and Ft. Meade Way

Junction S.D. 44 and U.S. 385

Junction U.S. 16 and U.S. 385

S.D. 34/79 & 11th Street

I-90 Exit 32 WB ramp

I-90 Exit 55 EB ramp

I-90 Exit 32 EB ramp

S.D. 34/79 & Glencoe Drive

S.D. 34/79 & Nellie Avenue

Speed limits will also be reduced on the following highways from Thursday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019.

Interstate 90 speed limit will be reduced from 75 mph to 65 mph from west of Exit 55 (Deadwood Avenue) in Rapid City to west of Exit 30 (Lazelle Street) in Sturgis.

Highway 34 speed limit will be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph from Blanche Street in Sturgis east 3.8 miles (east of Buffalo Chip).

Highway 79 speed limit will be reduced from 65 mph to 45 mph from the junction of Highway 34 north 1.75 miles (north of Iron Horse Campground).

The SDDOT will also deploy message boards and speed trailers at various locations along with the permanent dynamic message boards along the interstate to display messages regarding traffic conditions, fire conditions, accidents causing delays, extreme weather events and other messages as appropriate.

The traffic signals will be in full operation prior to Aug. 1, and remain in operation until Aug. 12, 2017.

For more information, contact the Rapid City Region traffic engineer, at 605-394-2244.

National:

Proposed rule revises Categorical eligibility in the SNAP program

The Federal USDA has proposed to change the flexibility currently permitted in states in the determination of eligibility for SNAP benefits, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, when a household has a gross income that exceeds the category limits.

The proposal on the USDA site explains the reason for the change as such, “The Food and Nutrition Act has clear parameters regarding the income and resource limits that SNAP households must meet, and categorical eligibility is intended to apply only when the conferring program has properly determined eligibility. Extending categorical eligibility to participants who have not been screened for eligibility compromises program integrity and reduces public confidence that benefits are being provided to eligible households.”

Currently, benefits may be as minimal as simply providing a household with an informational brochure describing social services or access to hotline numbers. These nominal benefits are often given without conducting a robust eligibility determination. Congress has established clear eligibility standards. It is USDA’s responsibility to make sure those who receive benefits are eligible.

So, “the Department proposes: (1) to define ‘benefits’ for categorical eligibility to mean ongoing and substantial benefits; and (2) to limit the types of non-cash TANF benefits conferring categorical eligibility to those that focus on subsidized employment, work supports and childcare. The proposed rule would also require State agencies to inform FNS of all non-cash TANF benefits that confer categorical eligibility.”

In an NPR reporter Pam Fessler explained, “Right now, the law sets a gross income cap of 130% of the poverty line for SNAP recipients — about $33,000 for a family of four. But states use something called ‘broad-based categorical eligibility’ to allow families getting other assistance to receive some SNAP benefits even if their incomes are as high as 200% of the poverty level, as long as they have other expenses that cut their net incomes below a certain level. States like the option because it gives them more flexibility to help families that have fluctuating incomes and still have trouble buying food.”

“These are working families who are just above SNAP’s income cutoff,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “What the [current system] does is say to workers that if you want to work a few more hours, you don’t risk losing SNAP because you take the extra shift. So it’s promoting work,” Fessler also reported.

“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”

Others are also concerned that the cuts will harm free lunch programs and impact the elderly, because it will not allow for flexibility for families that may have a fluctuating income, and will not allow for a gradual reduction in food assistance.

Supporters of the proposal argue that without the changes, the system is too difficult to cheat, and people are able to abuse it too easily.

USDA encourages all interested parties to provide input on the proposed rule through www.regulations.gov. The comment period will be open for 60 days.