Friday, March 22, 2019

Tim Kaine on Paid Sick Leave

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), editorial comment below:

Dear friend,

Too often, American workers are forced to choose between taking time off to care for their health and receiving a paycheck.

So I joined my colleague Senator Patty Murray on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to introduce the Healthy Families Act to allow workers to earn paid sick leave. This is about making sure that people can take time off when they are ill, need to care for a sick family member, obtain preventive care, or address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

The legislation would allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave each year. Businesses that already provide paid sick leave would not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards of the bill.

Studies show that paid sick leave can reduce the spread of contagious diseases like the flu and that a national paid sick days policy would reduce emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year.

I hope my colleagues in the Senate and House will join us and help make sure this legislation becomes law.

Visit my website:

Editorial comment: Meh. In my lifetime I've done very few jobs that came with paid sick leave. Mostly I've avoided flu by avoiding jobs where people are crowded together...for instance, when office workers don't have separate offices, they all breathe on each other all day, and fast-mutating viruses like Norwalk Flu just keep going around and around and around. Paid sick leave is fun, and quarantine is a very pleasant and public-spirited thing if only extroverts had enough sense to take it, but my observation was that, in offices that gave paid sick leave, flu circulated anyway. The sicker extroverts get, the more they want to rush up and grab other people and breathe on them.

Morgan Griffith: More on Energy Technology in Southwestern Virginia

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

Friday, March 22, 2019 –
Promising Developments in Research
During the recent congressional district work period, I had a chance to spend some time at Virginia Tech. While on campus, I met with some of the talented people who work and study there and heard firsthand about their important research and development projects. Some of their work promises great benefits for the economy and the quality of life, both here in Virginia and across the country.
My first appointment was with Dr. Roe-Hoan Yoon and the team at the Center for Advanced Separation Technologies. I’ve met with him several times over the years, and he spoke at a symposium on the future of coal I convened in 2016 in Wise.
His work focuses on developing processes to extract rare earth elements (their rarity is due to the difficulty of extraction) from coal byproducts. Viable extraction techniques would provide the American economy with a new supply of rare earth elements, which are prized for advanced manufacturing purposes.
A new supply pipeline of rare earth elements would bring benefits for the economy and jobs. It also would serve national security purposes, as right now the United States almost entirely depends on China for these resources.
At our meeting, Dr. Yoon updated me on progress in this field. A consortium of universities, including Virginia Tech, is moving forward with testing extraction methods. The consortium won a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy last fall for a pilot project to test a hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation process to produce clean coal and specialty carbon products for discarded coal wastes.
I have been happy to support the consortium’s work by encouraging the Federal Government to fund such projects, and I am excited by the potential they hold for a coal breakthrough.
The next meeting of the day regarded the work at Virginia Tech’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Center, led by Dr. Sunil Sinha, partially funded by a federal grant.
Clean water is important for health and safety, but aging infrastructure and uninformed maintenance strategies can hinder access to it. We remember the tragic situation in Flint, Michigan, where lead poisoned the water.
SWIM’s mission will help to prevent future failures by gathering data on water infrastructure systems nationwide. Collecting, securely maintaining, and analyzing this data will contribute to a better and broader understanding of our water infrastructure’s status. For example, it can indicate the reliability of various pipe construction materials in the area and the conditions that surround them. Factors like the type of soil or the proximity of railroad tracks can affect the lifespan of a pipe.
The data will be housed with Virginia Tech’s PIPELINE infrastructure DATABASE (PIPEiD), which aims to provide uniform standards for water infrastructure data and centralize it in a geographic information system (GIS), essentially providing a map of the data. This database will help municipalities large and small visualize their infrastructure issues.
I was struck by the usefulness of this approach, and during our meeting I noted that a similar mapping process would be helpful in addressing another critical infrastructure issue: broadband access.
As it happens, during the same week that I visited Virginia Tech, a pilot project was announced that would take a step toward mapping broadband availability. The Broadband Mapping Initiative, conducted by USTelecom and a consortium of broadband companies, is launching a pilot project in Virginia and Missouri that will develop tools and gather information to understand where broadband is – and more importantly isn’t – available.
I am glad to see that Virginia was chosen as one of the pilot states for this initiative. This data will be gathered and shared with consumers as well as the Federal Communications Commission and will hopefully be a productive step towards accurate and comprehensive broadband maps.
These various projects are examining different challenges that face our society and economy today, but they have much in common, including a commitment to research and evidence and cooperation among partners in the private, public, and higher education sectors. I think they offer a model for problem solving. And they are happening in our part of Virginia.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Care Packages

It's been a while since the e-mail has shown any great decline in Americans' willingness to pack Care Packages for our troops overseas. This morning it did.

Gentle Readers, the correspondent claims our young people are undersupplied with

beef sticks, hygiene products, sunflower seeds, corn nuts, and laundry products


blankets and hand warmers

for those in Afghanistan, where altitude can keep March weather bitterly cold.

Hmm. Amazon almost never has the best prices on most of these items, but it's time for an Amazon link-a-rama anyway. Here are some images to keep in mind on your next trip to the dime store:

Old Wisconsin Beef Sausage Snack Sticks, Naturally Smoked, Ready to Eat, High Protein, Low Carb, Keto, Gluten Free, 26 Ounce Resealable Package

O'Keeffe's Working Hands & Healthy Feet 3 ounce Combination Pack of Tubes
Vo5 Sh Herbal Escapes Ocn Size 12.5z Vo5 Shampoo Herbal Escapes Ocean Refresh 12.5z
Magic Shaving Powder Blue Regular Strength Case Pack 12
Amazon Brand - Solimo Thick Maxi Pads for Periods, Super Absorbency, Unscented, 192 Count (4 packs of 48)
Tide HE Turbo Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original Scent, Single 100 oz
Planters Dry Roasted Sunflower Kernels, 5.85 Ounce
Planters Corn Nuts Chilli Picante Flavor, 4 oz
Soft Premium Cotton Blanket - Queen/Full size - Cozy Cotton Bed Blankets - All season- Oversized Throw Quilt - Perfect for layering- 90"x90" by Avira Home
Sudawave Men's Knitted Wool Gloves with Leather Patch on Palm Micro Fleece Lined Warm Winter Gloves (Black)

...or the next time you knit or crochet!