September 11 - September 17, 2014

President Obama Rallies Workers at Milwaukee's Laborfest

 

By Press Officer
Office of the White House

The President celebrated Labor Day by visiting the city of Milwaukee for Laborfest, an annual festival hosted by the local AFL-CIO. While there, he spoke on a number of issues -- most notably the need to raise the minimum wage for America's workers.

Kicking off his remarks, the President said that Labor Day belongs to the “working folks who are here today, and the unions who've always had your back,” and emphasized the importance of building our economy from the middle class out:

“I didn't run for President to double down on top-down economics. I ran for President because I believed in bottom-up economics. I believed in middle-out economics. I placed a bet on you. I placed a bet on America’s workers. I put my money on American workers and the belief that our economy grows best when everybody has got a shot -- when folks who are willing to work hard can get into the middle class and stay in the middle class. And I’ve come back to Laborfest to say that because of your hard work, because of what we’ve been through together, that bet is starting to pay off.”

The President then went on to detail exactly how America is stronger:

• We've created nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 53 months -- and over the past six months, we've created more than 200,000 jobs each month.

• Our businesses are exporting more goods made in America than ever before.

• The United States is now the world's number-one oil and gas producer -- and for the first time in almost 20 years, we're producing more oil than we buy from other countries.

• We're also producing more clean energy, which is creating tens of thousands of good jobs across the country.

• America's high school graduation rate is at a record high, and more middle-class families can afford college -- and as a result, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.

• Millions more Americans have quality, affordable health insurance that they can count on.

“By almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office,” the President said. But “none of this progress has come easy. Every inch of it we have had to fight for. Every inch of it we've had to work against a lockstep opposition that is opposed to everything we do.”

 “The question now is, are we going to make the right decisions to accelerate this progress?”

It’s a good thing that corporate profits are high; I want American businesses to succeed. It’s a good thing that the stock market is booming; a lot of folks have 401Ks in there, I want them to feel good. But I also want to see the guy who’s breaking his back on two eight-hour shifts so he’s got enough money to send his kids to college, I want to make sure that guy is getting a break. I want to make sure he’s getting some help. I want to see that woman who’s worked for 40 years be able to retire with some dignity and some respect. That’s how I measure progress -- not just by how well the economy is doing overall but how it’s doing for folks who are working so hard doing everything right, just want a fair shot, and didn’t have anything handed to them in their lives, weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

“That's what at stake,” the President said. “Making sure the economy works for everybody.”

I’ve got a vision of an economy where opportunity is open to everybody who’s willing to work hard. I want an economy where new, long-term investments in American energy and American infrastructure and American manufacturing and American innovation are unleashing new jobs in new industries right here in Wisconsin, right here in Milwaukee; an economy where our workers have the chance to earn new skills that lead to that good job; where children graduate from school fully prepared for the global competition they’re going to face.

I want an economy where your hard work pays off with higher wages, and higher incomes, and fairer pay for women, and workplace flexibility for parents, and affordable health insurance, and decent retirement benefits. I’m not asking for the moon, I just want a good deal for American workers.

President Obama also noted that we could get more done "if we had a Congress that cared about policies that actually helped working people." But until then, he said, "it’s up to us to fight for these policies" -- and noted some of the actions he's taken on his own:

I acted on my own to make sure more women had the protections they needed to fight for fair pay on the workplace -- because I think when women succeed, America succeeds. I was raised by a single mom, so know how hard it is for a lot of women out there. And, by the way, men, you should want your wife to get paid fair. She’s bringing that money home. That’s not a women’s issue, that’s your issue. That’s money out of your family’s pocket.

That’s why I took action on my own to give millions of Americans the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes. I don’t want young people saddled with debt when they’re just starting out in life. That’s why I acted on my own to make sure companies that receive federal contracts, that they pay their workers a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. If you work full time in America, you shouldn’t be living in poverty, you shouldn’t be trying to support a family in poverty.

And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage -- of course, the Republicans in Congress have blocked it -- but more and more Americans are doing their part to make it happen. This is why I stay optimistic, even with some of the nonsense that goes on in Washington. You’ve seen business leaders at companies like The Gap that raised base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they knew it was good for business. You’ve seen mayors across the country doing their part, and today, on Labor Day, the mayor of Los Angeles is announcing a plan to raise his city’s minimum wage.

"There is no denying a simp?le truth: America deserves a raise."

President Obama also highlighted the important role that unions play in protecting American workers, saying that "if I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union."

If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union. If I were a firefighter or police officer risking my life and helping to keep my community safe, and wanted to make sure I came home safely to my family, I’d join a union. I’d want a union looking out for me.

"And if I cared about these things," he said, "I'd also want more Democrats looking out for me ... because when the rest of the country is working to raise wages, but Republicans in Congress won't, it ain't right."

When the rest of the country is working to open up more businesses, but Republicans in Congress block investments that would help more businesses grow, it ain’t right. When unions and CEOs, when law enforcement and the evangelical community, when folks who usually don’t agree on anything agree that we should be fixing our broken immigration system, but the Republicans in the House of Representatives have been sitting on a bill for more than a year, it ain’t right.

The President then explained that we need to continue to fight, and implored the crowd to believe in their own ability to "bring about the change we need."

 I'm asking you to believe in you. Because even when our politics just ain’t right, there’s a whole lot that is right with America.

America is that dad who punches in every morning to put food on the table. America is the mom who’s working the graveyard shift to provide for her kids. America is the child who dreams of being the first in his family to go to college. America is the teacher who stays after work and dips into her own pocket for supplies to help that child get there. America is the autoworker who thought she’d never make another car again, and now she can’t make them fast enough. America is the construction worker who’s helping build more homes and businesses to get solar panels on the top. America is on the move. America is on the move.

America is not the party we belong to, but the values we share. America is hard work. America is responsibility. America is sacrifice. America is looking out for one another. Let’s embrace some economic patriotism that says we rise or fall together as one nation, as one people.

He also noted that changing the status quo is one of the hardest things to do, and reiterated that people need to get involved, organize, vote -- and stay hopeful:

 Cynicism is fashionable these days, but cynicism didn’t put anybody on the moon. Cynicism never won a war, it never cured a disease, it never started a business, it never fed a young mind, it never built a road or a bridge.

Cynicism is a bad choice. Hope is the better choice. Hope is what gives us courage. Hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach. Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights, and worker’s rights, and civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights, and immigration rights.

Hope, the belief that there are better days ahead; the belief that together, we can build up our middle class and hand down something better to our kids -- that’s what built America. And America’s best days are still ahead. I believe it. You need to believe it, too. Let’s get to work.


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West Nile Virus Detected in Maryland Resident

 

By Press Officer
MD DHMH

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today announced the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Maryland this year. The infected individual is an adult who lives in the National Capital Region. In addition, WNV has also been detected in a horse, also in the National Capital Region, and in mosquito pools collected in Harford, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Talbot Counties. A mosquito pool is a group of mosquitoes collected at one of several trap sites across the State.

“A case of WNV is not unexpected," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "Marylanders are reminded that they can take basic steps to reduce the risk of getting infected."

Measures people can take to protect themselves include:

• Avoid areas of high mosquito activity.

• Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

• Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure.

• Use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions.

Most individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. People that do develop illness will usually have any combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. These symptoms generally appear two to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito. Less than one percent of persons exposed to the virus will develop more severe infections, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. In rare instances, WNV can be fatal. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing more severe disease. People who are immunocompromised may also be at high risk of WNV infection.

Residents are urged to monitor their own yards and gardens for standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Small amounts of water in a discarded can or container will support dozens of mosquitoes. To eliminate mosquito-breeding areas:

• Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.

• Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used as playground equipment.

• Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, wagons and carts when not in use. Flush water from bottom of plant holders twice a week.

• Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.

• Turn garbage can lids upside down and make sure trash receptacles are empty of water.

• Fix dripping faucets.

• Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will spray all participating communities within a one-mile radius of where the person resides, and continue routine spray operations in all other participating communities throughout the state.

Although birds are not routinely tested for WNV in Maryland, sick or injured birds can be reported to an appropriate local wildlife rehabilitator. Residents can call 1-877-463-6497 for a list of licensed rehabilitators or visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources web site at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/

wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/rehab.asp.  Detailed instructions on what to do when you find a sick or dead bird can be found at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx .

The number of human WNV cases in Maryland has varied over the years. The peak years of human activity occurred in 2003 and 2012, with 73 and 47 WNV cases reported statewide, respectively. In 2013, there were 16 reported cases of WNV infection in Maryland.

DHMH provides weekly updates of WNV detected in humans, mosquitoes and horses in Maryland on its website. For each case,

DHMH indicates whether the infected individual is a child or an adult and the region of the state where the individual resides. The case announced today will be reflected in the report posted on Wednesday, September 3rd.

The reports will be available each Wednesday at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx


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Cardin, Mikulski Address Rising College Education Costs

 

By Press Officer
Office of the Senators

BOWIE, Md. – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) visited Bowie State University Thursday for a roundtable discussion with BSU President Mickey L. Burnim, students and officials.  At the forefront of the conversation were the many challenges Maryland students face in paying for higher education. As prices at public four-year institutions rise at unprecedented rates and U.S. student loan debt balloons to roughly $1 trillion – a sum larger than Americans’ total collective credit card debt – the senators are committed to finding new ways in Washington to make college a more attainable prospect for a greater number of Maryland students. Getting a college degree opens the door to job opportunities, and for the average worker, means $1 million more in earnings over a lifetime compared to those with a high school diploma.

“We need to be doing everything in our power to make education more affordable. The Federal government should not be making a profit off student loans. By allowing students to drown in debt, we risk their future and we are shortchanging the future of our national and regional economies by pricing certain Americans out of the college market,” said Senator Cardin. “All Americans deserve a fair shot at success—particularly our students, who are simply trying to create a better future for themselves. We need a new Higher Education Act that more accurately takes into account the cost to attend college and give students information they need to get the best value.”

“I’m worried about what skyrocketing student debt means for young people and the future of our country,” said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Senate Community College Caucus. “We must reduce interest rates and increase graduation rates. That’s why I’m fighting to pass the Bank on Students Act, which was blocked earlier this year by just two votes and would allow student borrowers to refinance their loans at today’s low rates. And it’s why I have to work to extend college tuition tax breaks for middle class families three times over the past five years. I will continue to fight so Maryland families have a fair shot at higher education with a government on their side.”

“Senators Mikulski and Cardin’s commitment to addressing the growing concern about student loan debt was very evident in today’s discussion,” said BSU President Burnim. “It’s a problem that directly affects our students, even as we work to remain an affordable option to earn a high quality college education.”

Seven out of ten college seniors who graduated in 2012 graduated with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt, and more than 40 million Americans today owe almost $1.2 trillion in student loans – more than is owed on credit cards. In Maryland, more than half of graduating students are borrowing to pay for their education.

Senators Cardin and Mikulski have joined forces to ensure all students get a fair shot at a quality higher education that does not leave them or their family overburdened in debt. Both senators are cosponsors of the Bank on Student Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (S. 2292), which would allow those who currently hold student loan debt to refinance it at lower interest rates.

Senators Cardin and Mikulski also have supported legislation to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to increase the financial information available to students before utilizing student loans. The ultimate goal is to help students and their families to make informed financial decisions. In 2012, they announced a $3 million grant for Bowie State University to help close the achievement gap for first-generation college students, increase enrollment, and begin implementation of a strategic plan to enhance educational offerings.


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Ingrid Turner at the Ribbon Cutting for New CCI Prenatal Health Care Facility

 

By Angela Rouson
CouncilMedia@co.pg.md.us

Prince George’s County Council Member Ingrid Turner (D) – District 4, joined Kaiser Permanente Executive Director of Community Benefit Maritha Gay; Community Care, Inc. (CCI) CEO, Kathleen Knolhoff; City of Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan, CCI, Inc. and Kaiser Permanente employees; patients and members of the Greenbelt community for the ribbon-cutting and official grand opening of the CCI Prenatal Care Center in Greenbelt on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.

During her congratulatory remarks, Council Member Turner thanked CCI and Kaiser Permanente for their continued investment in Prince George’s County and District 4.

“CCI’s new prenatal care facility will offer access to quality health care when it is most needed,” said Council Member Turner. “We want our children to have the best start possible, and prenatal care improves the health and birth outcomes for both mothers and babies. This new location, in close proximity to the Greenbelt metro, will give more residents an opportunity to take advantage of the services provided and we are pleased to welcome this new facility to District 4.”

Community Clinic, Inc. (CCI) is a nonprofit, community-based health care agency serving residents of Prince George's and Montgomery counties who are uninsured or under-insured. Kaiser Permanente provided funding to expand care, furniture for additional examination rooms, and dedicated four clinicians to treat patients through its community ambassador program. During its first year, the center is expected to provide prenatal care to over 200 new expectant mothers.

CCI’s stated mission is to provide quality primary care, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition services, and other health-related services to medically under-served persons, promote improved access to health care services, and conduct its mission in a non-discriminatory manner, sensitive to the needs of the community and the dignity of every individual.

 

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PGCC Student Awarded MTEF Tourism Scholarship

 

By Jennifer L. Colter
PGCommunity College

Annapolis, MD – The Maryland Tourism Education Foundation, Inc. (MTEF), originally established in 2007 as a 501-C-3 corporation, is delighted to announce that Marilyn Ann Cox of Oxon Hill, MD is the winner of its $1,000 scholarship for 2014. Ms. Cox submitted the application and winning essay that put her ahead of the rest of the applicants.  Certified in Hospitality Services Management, she graduated from the Prince George’s Community College program in May 2014.

As the first generation of her family to attend college, Marilyn spoke of her belief in education…a belief that was strongly supported by her Mother.  She is going to pursue her AA degree at Prince George’s Community College in Hospitality Management, with the intent to transfer to the University of Maryland to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, followed by a Master’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in International Business.

Ms. Cox has recently obtained employment with MGM Resorts National Harbor, as the Administrative Assistant to the Project Director, John Rooney. A team leader in her church, she is particularly interested in the Philanthropic efforts of MGM Resorts International and its many benefactors.

In Marilyn’s words:  “There is no greater feeling of accomplishment when you are working in your passion and in the field that makes you “tick” as a person.” MTEF President, Deb Carter, Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds, is excited about the new awardee, and her strong beliefs and goals. “So often we hear bad news, negative reports from all around us on a daily basis. To read through the essays we received, was such a positive experience that confirms what a great industry we’re in. To be able to make our customers happy, and make a living doing it – what could be better?”

Ms. Cox was recognized at the recent MTEF Board meeting. She is shown here receiving her scholarship award from Stephen Kensinger, Senior Vice President of Old Line Bank, and Treasurer of MTEF serves to build the capabilities of Maryland’s tourism workforce. Since 2008, MTEF has awarded nine (9) tourism education scholarships.  MTEF also licenses two customer-service training  programs: Hospitality Maryland Style, a college credit course, and Maryland Smiles, a certification non-credit course. Additionally, MTEF provides a monthly, one-day Taxi Host class for Taxi Drivers and BWI Shuttle Drivers at the Baltimore City Community College.  This popular class has certified over 200 drivers as Maryland Taxi Hosts in the last 12- month period. For more information on scholarships or programs listed, please call 410.573.1300 or visit the website at www.mdtef.org

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