President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama City — marking the first full meeting between the leaders of the two countries since we announced a new diplomatic path with Cuba.
The two presidents discussed our shared histories, significant policy changes, and the positive response in both countries to this thaw in relations. “This is obviously a historic meeting,” said President Obama — who was in Central America for the seventh Summit of the Americas, a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the region.
In this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students. A better-educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world. Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy.
More than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy — and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
Last week, the President made an important announcement about preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, traveled west to champion high-tech jobs in Louisville and clean energy jobs in Salt Lake City, had some fun at the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and flew to Jamaica for a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations.
by Aaron Severn
Director, Grassroots and Federal Legislative Affairs
American Wind Energy Association
I wanted to loop you in on the latest updates on American wind power. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released its Annual Market Report for 2013, as well as its First Quarter 2014 Market Report.
So what’s new?
The U.S. wind industry did not install much wind power capacity in 2013, reflecting the impact of the policy uncertainty that the wind industry faced throughout 2012.
The numbers were small:
In total, though, wind power is making impressive contributions to the U.S. electricity supply:
As you may recall, Congress allowed the PTC to expire at the end of 2012. Then, our legislators extended the credit in early January 2013, allowing projects that started construction by the end of 2013 to qualify for the credit (rather than requiring that they be operational by the end of 2013, as required in the past). The uncertainty throughout 2012 caused wind project development to come to a halt, and manufacturing orders to cease, resulting in little development and significant job loss as noted above.
How’s this year looking so far?
The PTC extension in 2013 allowed developers to put plans back in motion. As a result, 2014 is off to a great start:
Is there a catch?
Yes – federal policy for the wind energy industry is still uncertain. The PTC expired again, at the end of 2013. Without an extension, the wind industry is looking at the prospect of near-term downturns in project development, and job layoffs as well.
The Senate Finance Committee has acted to extend the PTC, and a credit that developers can choose instead of the PTC, the investment tax credit (ITC). They extended these provisions as part of the EXPIRE Act in early April. The bill moves to the Senate floor for consideration next, and we will keep you updated on that front. It will be important to weigh in with your Senators about the importance of extending the PTC through the EXPIRE Act.
Thanks, as always, for your support. I encourage you to check out these resources if you’re interested in more information:
Director, Grassroots and Federal Legislative Affairs
American Wind Energy Association
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office worked with the Departments of Human Services and Public Health “to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended $26 million in social services and public health grants as part of his push to whittle away at a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current state budget.
The Republican’s office released a list of targeted programs late Friday that included funding to pay for the funerals and burials of public-assistance recipients, smoking cessation, teen programs, autism, and HIV and AIDS programs, among other things.
Rauner also froze $3.4 million in funding for immigrant integration assistance as part of ongoing efforts to keep the state rolling through the June 30 end of the fiscal year.
Rauner’s office said the check-writing halt – he also interrupted $180 million in parkland grants in March – is necessary because the expenditures were based on the assumption a temporary income tax would be extended past January, but it wasn’t after Rauner won the election.
“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”
The cuts will save the state $21.8 million in Department of Human Services Grants and $4.5 million in unexpended funding through the Department of Public Health. The suspensions only affect this year’s funding, Kelly said.
But there’s always another price – this one paid for by constituents who, as soon as Monday morning, will be told through closed doors there’s no more money to help them.
Breandan Magee, senior director of programs for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said dozens of organizations assisted 102,000 legal immigrants in 2014 with applications for citizenship, English as a Second Language classes and health and nutrition programs for low-income immigrants.
“There are 299 jobs across 60 different immigrant-services agencies at risk” with funding ceasing, Magee said Saturday. “There are workshops scheduled for citizenship, applications for citizenship pending, ESL classes hallway through.”
Immigrant integration programs – which Rauner proposed eliminating entirely in the 2016 budget – will forfeit nearly half of their $6.7 million budget, according to figures provided by the governor’s office. Magee said he hopes the state will cover expenses he’s already incurred.
A copy of Friday’s letter from Human Services, obtained by The Associated Press, notifies the recipient to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds.” Agencies must submit records of all spending for the year. Jimi Orange of Children’s Home and Aid faces the unenviable task of telling up to 25 of the 100 children in Chicago’s impoverished West Englewood neighborhood they can’t come to Earle Elementary School for after-class tutoring and cultural activities because the state has recalled the remaining $3.1 million of Teen REACH money for kids ages 7 to 17.
“The staff’s concern is how to tell the families? What to tell the kids? How to tell the kids?” Orange said. “These are kids who already have abandonment issues, trust issues.”
Parkland-related grants Rauner has suspended this year include $90 million for park facility construction, $56 million for local governments to purchase open space for future parkland, and $30 million for museum capital-construction grants.
Grants suspended by Rauner include:
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million
Rauner’s ‘turnaround budget’ has cuts called ‘reckless,’ ‘wrong priorities’
You be the judge. Look at the list below and decide if grants for the Homeless or for HIV assistance, Addiction prevenetion, and so on are reckless.
Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million
Welcoming Centers, $191,300
ARC Lifespan, $118,100
Best Buddies, $250,000
Autism, $1 million
Group Home Loans, $20,000
Compulsive Gambling $406,000
Westside Health, $94,200
Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million
Assistance for Homeless, $300,000
Community Services, $2 million
Teen REACH, $3.1 million
Coalition F/Tech Assist-Child, $250,000
For Children’s Health Program, $231,600
Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700
Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700
SMRF Training, $420,100
DD Latino Outreach, $87,500
Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500
DHS TOTAL: $21.8 million
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800
Increasing Access to Health Care-Wellness on Wheels, $180,000
Wellness on Wheels – Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000
Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million
Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000
MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000
IDPH TOTAL: $4.5 million
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES*
Park and Recreational Facility Construction, $89.5 million
Open Space Lands Acqusition and Development, $56.3 million
Museum Capital Grants, $30.4 million
Bike Paths, Mud-to-Parks, others, $2.6 million
IDNR TOTAL: $178.8 million
*Grants suspended in March
B & R Meat Processing Recalls Pork Products Due to Possible Processing Deviation and Staphylococcal Enterotoxin Contamination
B & R Meat Processing, a Winslow, Ark. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,129 pounds of pork products due to a possible processing deviation that may have led to staphylococcal enterotoxin contamination.
B& R Meat Processing, Inc. Recalls Products Due to Nitrite Levels in Excess of Regulatory Limit
B & R Meat Processing, Inc. is recalling approximately 569 pounds of pork products due to nitrite levels in excess of regulatory limit.
Beech-Nut Nutrition Recalls Baby Food Product Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Beech-Nut Nutrition, an Amsterdam, N.Y. establishment, is recalling approximately 1,920 pounds of baby food products that may be contaminated with small pieces of glass.
Corn Maiden Foods, Inc. Recalls Beef and Pork Products Due To Misbranding and an Undeclared Allergen Corn Maiden Foods, Inc., a Harbor City, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 15,600 pounds of pork tamales, pork Yucatan, and beef brisket taquitos products due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen (hydrolyzed soy protein).
Cargill Recalls Beef Products Due To Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
Recall Notification Report. Cargill Meat Solutions, a Wyalusing, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 8,294 pounds of ground beef product that may be contaminated with blue string.
Updated information is now available. A list of retail consignees has been posted for recall 056-2015, Vern’s and Sons Food Service Recalls Beef and Chicken Products Produced Without Benefit of Inspection (Apr 8, 2015).
La Guadalupana Wholesale Co., Inc. Recalls Pork and Chicken Products Due To Misbranding and an Undeclared Allergen
La Guadalupana Wholesale Co., Inc., a Chicago, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 34,923 pounds of pork and chicken tamale products due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The products contain egg whites, a known allergen, which are not declared on the product label.
Vern’s and Sons Food Service Recalls Beef and Chicken Products Produced Without Benefit of Inspection
Vern’s and Sons Food Service, a Milwaukie, Ore. establishment, is recalling approximately 450 pounds of beef and chicken products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection and outside inspection hours.
Leader Slaughterhouse, LLC Recalls Veal Carcasses Produced Without Full Benefit of Inspection
Leader Slaughterhouse, LLC, an Imler, Penn., establishment, is recalling approximately 1,800 pounds of veal carcasses that were produced without the full benefit of federal inspection and outside inspection hours.