Big Step Forward for Our Clean Tech Capital
Friday, 02 December 2011
Today, I am happy to tell you that Sacramento has been chosen as one of the first five cities to benefit from President Obama’s announced "Better Building Initiative", a plan to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020.
This morning, President Obama signed a memorandum for a minimum $2 billion commitment from federal agencies over the next two years, which will be paid for in the energy savings the upgrades will provide. Funds will be used to hire contractors to perform energy retrofits and green upgrades at federal facilities across the nation. Additionally, sixty private companies, municipal leaders, and labor organizations have agreed to invest $2 billion in private capital to upgrade 300 manufacturing plants and 1.6 billion square feet of commercial and industrial property.
Because of the private sector investment and the fact that the federal upgrades pay for themselves, this plan will not cost taxpayers a cent. Additionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the federal investment alone could create 35,000 jobs nationally.
This private-public partnership will create thousands of new jobs, help move our country’s clean energy sector forward, and provide long-term savings. It is the exact type of forward-thinking and innovative approach that will get our country back on the right track and ensure that we remain competitive in the future. And I am very pleased that the Administration has chosen Sacramento, which is itself a clean energy leader, to help kick-off the program. Not only will this deal get our region’s construction sector back to work, it will also help further position us as the ‘Clean Tech Capital’.
As many of you know, I am working hard every day to create jobs in Sacramento and to advance our clean energy priorities. Sacramento has been noticed on a national-level for its commitment to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, and I continue to work hard to restore and expand that program.
I have also introduced several bills geared towards promoting clean energy jobs and manufacturing in our region. Specifically, H.R. 502, the Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act, would assist American clean tech firms with export assistance and implement a National Clean Energy Technology Export Strategy. This legislation would help advance Sacramento’s clean energy priorities and keep our country competitive globally.
I will continue working to see that we work to create jobs and invest in clean energy technology. Through energy upgrades, our country can save money, reduce our carbon footprint, and compete globally. For more information on my work on clean energy, visit matsui.house.gov/cleanenergy. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at (916) 498-5600.
Medicare Open Enrollment Ends December 7
Friday, 18 November 2011
We are currently in the midst of Medicare’s Open Enrollment season, which ends earlier than normal this year on December 7. Every fall, the Open Enrollment period gives Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to compare plans and make changes to their coverage for the upcoming calendar year.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare enrollees have more choices and benefits than ever. The health care law provides free annual wellness visits and preventive care services to many Medicare enrollees. And, it is working to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap and lower prescription drug costs. Because of these changes, it is more important than ever that you take some time to review your Medicare plan.
In order to help you make the best choices for you, Medicare has introduced a five-star rating system that ranks the privately run Advantage plans on preventive care, managing chronic conditions, customer service, pharmacy services, and overall satisfaction. Not only will the new star rating system help you make decisions about your health plans, it is also motivating health care providers to improve their care and service in order to earn a higher rating. You can visit Medicare’s Plan Finder to see these ratings and review your options.
I hope that you will take advantage of the Open Enrollment period to ensure that you are getting the best care for your needs. For answers to your personal Medicare questions, you can visit www.medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or consult with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Additional helpful information can be found in the 2012 Medicare & You handbook. And, as always, please feel free to call my office at (916) 498-5600.
Showing Our Appreciation
Friday, 11 November 2011
Today, on Veterans Day, we take the time to remember, honor, and thank our service men and women, both current and former, for everything they have done at home and abroad to keep our country safe. This morning, I am excited to have the chance to participate in the City of Sacramento Veterans Day Parade. It is always a humbling experience to be in the presence of Sacramento's heroes.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been able to meet with some amazing veterans, both young and old, while at work in Congress and at home here in Sacramento. Speaking with these different groups of veterans reminded me of how far we have come in recognizing and supporting all of our veterans. Last week, I watched as a number of local Japanese American veterans were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for their efforts serving in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service during World War II. These units fought valiantly, even as their loved ones' loyalties were being questioned at internment camps. While it took decades for those veterans to be recognized, we are making great efforts to support our veterans at every stage of their lives. As an example of that, on Wednesday, I visited the new Sacramento State Veterans Success Center, which will help ensure the success of student veterans on and off campus.
It is inspiring to see these types of efforts being made in our community. American service men and women have worked hard to protect our freedom and our way of life, and it is vital that we show them their sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. And as more and more troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, I will continue to advocate for programs that will provide job-readiness training, job placement, hiring incentives and other resources for our veterans.
For example, the Hiring Heroes Act, H.R. 1941, will provide federal funding for many important projects that help veterans transition to civilian life and plan for a future post-service. President Obama has also introduced measures as part of his American Jobs Act that will greatly benefit veterans as they look for employment, including the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits. These credits will provide incentives for businesses that hire veterans who are either short-term or long-term unemployed, as well as unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities. It is important to me that we continue to ensure veterans are able to compete for and secure jobs after they leave the armed forces.
Additionally, last week the House of Representatives passed S. 894, legislation that will provided disabled veterans with a Cost-of-Living Adjustment of 3.6%. This benefits increase was long overdue, and will help support our disabled veterans and their families.
Please know that I will continue to advocate for our troops and our veterans during the 112th Congress to ensure that they have the benefits they need and the quality of life they deserve. And, as always, if I can do anything to assist you, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (916) 498-5600.
Help for Homeowners
Tuesday, 08 November 2011
As you are aware, the Sacramento region’s housing market has been one of the hardest hit in the nation. I have heard from hundreds of homeowners who are frustrated and angry at the banks for giving them the run around when they are trying to work with them to stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure. With more than 40% of homes in our region underwater, and increasing rates of foreclosure, helping Sacramento homeowners is one of my top priorities.
Recently, I joined my colleagues in writing a letter to President Obama urging him to take immediate actions to help stabilize the housing market. We encouraged the Obama Administration to allow for principal reductions and interest-rate modifications on mortgages secured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Additionally, we asked that his administration institute a Homeowner’s Bill of Rights that would ensure much greater accountability and transparency by the financial institutions that manage home mortgages.
Earlier this year, I also co-sponsored H.R. 363, the Housing Opportunity and Mortgage Equity Act of 2011. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to commence a one-year program to allow qualifying homeowners to refinance mortgages. As a member of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation and the Housing Stabilization Task Force, I have been working to urge the Administration to take swift action on this critical issue.
On October 24, 2011, the Obama Administration announced a new plan for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to help homeowners. Under this plan, many more homeowners will be eligible for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), and will be eligible to refinance their home loan at today’s low interest rates. For more information on the changes to HARP, click here. This plan is a good first step, but more will have to be done to ensure that Sacramentans can stay in their homes.
Please know that I will continue to put pressure on the Administration, and my colleagues in Congress, to see to it that responsible homeowners are able to stay in their homes. If you have any questions about this or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 916-498-5600.
Supporting Our Small Businesses
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
I strongly believe that even as Congress works to reduce our nation’s deficit, our first priority must be the creation of jobs for American workers. We know that we cannot reduce the debt without growing our economy; we cannot have growth without job creation; and we cannot create jobs without small businesses.
In fact, 64 percent of all new job growth in this country comes from small businesses and our small businesses make up over 95% of all employers in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration. They are our primary job creators and the backbone of our communities and our economy. That is why when we talk about the need to create jobs, we also need to be talking to small business owners about what they need to grow and succeed.
I recently held a series of events in Sacramento to hear directly from local businesses about the challenges they are facing. I hosted two small business roundtables in Sacramento, as well as took part in a White House Business Council Roundtable with United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In these meetings, I heard directly about the need for banks to be lending more to small businesses. Even though many of America’s banks have almost fully recovered from the financial meltdown, they continue to sit on large sums of money, instead of lending it out to the small businesses that need a loan to purchase new equipment, expand their businesses and most critically – hire new workers.
One of the participants in a recent roundtable was Patricia Murakami of Ambrosia Café and Catering in downtown Sacramento. As a small business owner, Patricia knows firsthand how our economic climate is affecting businesses today – and what Congress can do to give our economy the biggest return on our investment. When asked how public officials in Washington could help local businesses, she said, “I believe Congress should be providing financial relief to small businesses so that we can create new jobs. I also believe Congress must continue to invest in education and job training so that our local workforce is prepared to take advantage of growing industries.”
I couldn’t agree more. That is why I support the American Jobs Act – legislation that would create jobs immediately for American workers. It would do so by investing in technology and infrastructure to keep our workforce and economy ahead of foreign competitors. The legislation also provides important tax incentives to encourage businesses to expand their workforce. Small business owners are asking Congress to pass a jobs bill, and it is time for Congress to listen and take action.
I will continue to urge my colleagues to pass the American Jobs Act because Sacramentans cannot wait any longer. For more information on the American Jobs Act, please visit my website.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or to share your story.
Forty-Six Years Ago Today
Sunday, 31 July 2011
As Congress continues to work towards an agreement that will keep the United States from defaulting on its loans, I wanted to reiterate to you my commitment to protecting Medicare and Medicaid, on this, the 46th anniversary of the law’s signing.
Forty-six years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation that created two of our country’s most important programs. For the last forty-six years, Democrats have defended Medicare, and I am continuing that fight harder than ever now.
Over the past several months, since the Republican budget proposal was released up until this very minute of the debt ceiling debate, many of you have reached out to me to share your thoughts. You have asked that I stand strong against proposals that would harm these programs, and you have shared your own personal stories with me. Today, I want to share some of those stories with you.
Take Mona for example. Mona started working at fourteen, and has paid into Medicare for as long as she can remember. Today, Medicare is making the difference in her life and in her ability to make ends meet.
Then there’s Paul. Paul is concerned about his parents, both of whom are Medicare enrollees. If their benefits were cut, he said that he simply does not know how they would be able to cover their medical costs.
And David, a disabled veteran and recent retiree, is scheduled to start receiving Medicare benefits next month. In his own words, the Majority's proposal is meant to “divide and conquer” – and I could not agree more.
But I want you to know, as we move forward on reaching a deal to avoid default, I will continue fighting for Medicare – for Mona, for Paul and his parents, for David – and for you, your children, and grandchildren.
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