Spotlight Exclusives

Trump’s First 100 Days: Bipartisan Action in States, Question Marks Elsewhere

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

President Donald Trump has faced a rocky first 100 days in office marked by major policy reversals and defeats on signature issues, and Congressional leaders have struggled to advance even basic measures. The result is little federal action on issues affecting low-income Americans. Trump did suggest an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Credit in his recent outline of a tax plan, but it’s still unclear how that plan might affect poor families. Also unclear is the impact, particularly on Medicaid recipients, of ongoing efforts to repeal or restructure the Affordable Care Act.

But while federal action on poverty has stalled, Republicans and Democrats are working together on promising measures at the state level. The first few months of 2017 have seen a flurry of bipartisan bills and executive actions on education, housing, criminal justice, and other key issues.

As federal lawmakers weigh tax reform, Montana and Hawaii passed state Earned Income Tax Credits, which the governors of each state are expected to sign into law.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed an executive order authorizing Two-Gen, a program that aims to fight multi-generational poverty by streamlining human services and focusing them on entire families. And the legislature voted to extend paid sick leave to almost 700,000 Maryland workers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bipartisan bill this month raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18-years-old statewide. Advocates say indiscriminately placing 16- and 17-year-olds in the adult justice system has serious consequences for their futures. A similar measure is gaining momentum in Texas.

People with opioid dependencies will have greater access to syringe exchanges, overdose medication, and safer prescription practices thanks to four bills passed with bipartisan support and signed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

Legislators on both sides of the aisle voted to improve child care access. In Alabama, the state House overwhelmingly approved a measure to improve the quality and safety of unlicensed child care facilities. And Colorado lawmakers passed a bipartisan increase in their child care subsidy program, the third such increase in the past several years.

And the Massachusetts legislature has bipartisan support, including from Gov. Charlie Baker (R), for measures to boost low-income residents’ access to renewable energy.

This wave of progress at the state level demonstrates that bipartisan action to fight poverty and expand economic opportunity is possible even in these highly polarized times. We’ll continue to track promising anti-poverty measures at the state and federal level as the Trump administration works through its agenda.

Want to learn more about poverty, safety net programs, and laws in each state? Check out our comprehensive 50-state data map.

« Back to Spotlight Exclusives