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O’Malley Promotes Record Of Support For Workforce Training, Best Practices

Des Moines, Nov. 15 – Maryland increased its effectiveness of its workforce training programs, presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley said of his time as Maryland’s governor.

“I learned as governor the very disparate  way, that people with disabilities are kept out of our workforce, and so as governor we actually increased and improved on the effectiveness on our workforce training programs, especially as they relate to people with disabilities,” O’Malley said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report following the CBS Democratic presidential primary debate.

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“Nothing About Us, Without Us”

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – I’m Justin Chappell, The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporter. I’m covering the CBS Democratic debate this evening along with hundreds of other journalists from around the country. To my knowledge, I’m the only reporter here who uses a wheelchair – and glad to be keeping with our community’s motto of “nothing about us, without us.”

I’ll be based here in Des Moines for next couple of weeks for The RespectAbility Report, covering the presidential candidates and asking them about critical issues important to our community. Throughout the 2016 election season, I’ll be working with disability activists throughout the country to mobilize our community in the policial process.

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Sanders Campaign to Focus on Caregiving for People with Disabilities

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is focusing on caregivers and assistance for people with disabilities this month, according to Bruce Koeppl, a senior advisor for the campaign who is based in Iowa.

“That’s what you can look for this weekend as we begin to unroll some additional issues. Sunday we will be having the panel on caregiving. Soon we will be going out and doing coffee with aging advocates around Medicaid, Social Security, caregiving. So it’s going to be an important issue for him this fall as we get into the caucuses.”

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Ahead of Dem Debate, A Look at Clinton’s Dedication to Disability Issues

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – While presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton had a shaky start with outreach to the disability community, recently she has talked about issues such as autism and treatments for mental illness. In addition, her campaign website has a page dedicated to disability issues and campaign staffers are beginning to pay attention to accessibility needs at events.

At a meeting with Iowa disability leaders yesterday, Clinton’s Iowa Constituency Director Brenda Kole reiterated Clinton’s commitment to the disability community.

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“Dignity for people who are disabled”

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – Ahead of tonight’s Democratic debate, all of the Democratic campaigns in addition to two Republican campaigns met with twenty disability leaders in Iowa yesterday. Ben Chou, Martin O’Malley’s Constituency Outreach Director in Iowa, said the former governor is a champion for dignity for all people.

“Dignity for people who are disabled,” Chou emphasized following the meeting. “There are hazards for them when they are going to try and find a job, or whether they are at work and some sort of situation happens. These are the type of hazards, that the state, the city, your government should be responsible for.”

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Beyond Just Celebrating the Day – Caring for All Veterans

Washington, Nov. 11 – As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, it is important to truly remember our veterans and ensure we are taking care of their needs.

One of their top priorities is employment. Government policies that help veterans with disabilities get and keep jobs are a win-win because they allow veterans the dignity and financial benefits of work and also grow our economy and save taxpayer money.

RespectAbility, along with several partners including Paralyzed Veterans of America, developed a resource called the Disability Employment First Planning Tool. This document details those practices and the most-effective models. If the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, which was recently signed into law, is put into place thoughtfully, it will help to reduce the government’s expenditure on SSI benefits, while enabling veterans with disabilities with the opportunity to become independent and achieve the American dream.

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Rubio: End Stigma Surrounding Vocational Education

Washington, Nov. 11 – While disability issues were not discussed during last night’s debate, Republican hopeful Marco Rubio brought up a very important topic – the stigma attached to vocational training as an alternative to traditional college.

“For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education,” the Senator from Florida said. “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

Many journalists from The Washington Post to Slate focused on the second half of the statement, showing that Rubio is wrong and “philosophy majors make way more than welders.”

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Carson Calls for Bold Reform of VA

Washington, Nov. 11 – Today, our nation observes Veterans’ Day. It is a moment for our country to pause and celebrate the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. This date also is an opportunity to discuss the way our nation cares for veterans.

In 2014, multiple scandals brought the harsh light of public scrutiny to the system of care provided to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Earlier this year, former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson weighed in on the challenges facing the VA. As Carson pushes ahead in the polls to becoming a GOP’s frontrunner, it is important to examine what the doctor has said about caring for our nation’s veterans.

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People with Disabilities Twice as Likely to Live in Poverty

Washington, Nov. 11 – When FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo asked former Gov. Jeb Bush about unemployed Americans seeking a job or who have stopped looking, the Republican presidential hopeful listed off a few ways he’d attempt to drive the economy back to four percent growth.

“The reason why we have structural deficits is that more and more people are relying on government and the growth that we don’t have makes — makes the deficit grow,” he said during the Fox Business Network – Wall Street Journal debate.

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Santorum: Focus on Job Training

Washington, Nov. 11 – In the undercard debate, the Republican presidential hopefuls were asked how they would get America back to work again. One after another, they dodged the question and said they would reduce taxes.

However, when Sen. Rick Santorum answered the question, he focused instead on job skills.

“We have to start doing something about training and employing people who are sitting on the sidelines because they don’t see a path,” the presidential hopeful said. “People need to go to work and we need to provide opportunities for them to go to work out of high school.”

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Clinton: “I Do Support the Use of Medical Marijuana”

Washington, Nov. 9 – Hillary Clinton announced support for medical research of marijuana. She is the latest of the three Democratic presidential hopefuls to do so.

While Clinton had previously declined to endorse legalized medical or recreational marijuana at the federal level, on Saturday she detailed a proposal to increase research of medical marijuana.

Clinton said she supports removing marijuana from the schedule 1 list, which includes a group of drugs that are prohibited from federally-sponsored research. Currently, marijuana, as a schedule 1 drug, is considered to be among the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s most dangerous drugs.

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Canada Appoints Two People with Disabilities to Cabinet

Washington, Nov. 5 – When Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was sworn into office on Wednesday, he revealed his diverse cabinet. Many news outlets are reporting how 50 percent of the cabinet ministers are women, helping to make it the most diverse cabinet Canada has ever seen. But it is not just because of the 15 women.

In Trudeau’s words, it’s a diverse cabinet “that looks like Canada.”

Among the new ministers, two have disabilities.

Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, was paralyzed after being shot as a bystander in a drive-by shooting when he was 21. As a result, he has been a quadriplegic since 1991. In response to a high suicide rate among veterans returning from war, Hehr said veterans would be treated with compassion by the new government. He also focuses on gun violence and LGBT rights.

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Become A Citizen Journalist

Washington, Oct. 30 – As The RespectAbility Report continues to track all of the presidential candidates’ statements on disability issues, we are asking for our readers’ help. Since our staff is small, we need you to ask the candidates to talk about these important issues that are often not discussed by mainstream media.

It’s simple. People with disabilities (PwDs) and their families and friends who attend an event with a presidential candidate and get us video of the candidate answering or addressing a question on disability issues will receive $100.

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Sanders: Change Marijuana Classification, Allow Medical Research

Washington, Oct. 29 – Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate to call for removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act – a list of the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the federal government. This would allow states to legalize recreational marijuana. Possibly even more importantly, this also would mean medical researchers could test marijuana for a variety of medical issues including epilepsy. Currently this is illegal under federal law.

“The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana,” the self-described “democratic socialist” senator from Vermont said at a town hall at George Mason University. “States should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco. And among other things that means that recognized businesses in states that have legalized marijuana should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution.”

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Kasich Touts Record as Job Creator

Boulder, Oct. 29 – Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich wasted no time in attacking his opponents and emphasizing his economic record as governor of Ohio during last night’s CNBC debate.

In his opening statement, Kasich was quick to argue that his opponents’ talk of “getting rid of Medicare and Medicaid” was “fantasy.” He said that Washington needs such qualities as “hard work,” “fiscal discipline,” and “creativity” –  qualities he claims to have had during his career as a congressman and governor.

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Trump Perpetuates Stigma around Mental Health with Talk of “Sickos”

Boulder, Oct. 29 – In campaign events across the country, Donald Trump has been quick to use the word “stupid” when talking about the perceived incompetence of political leaders. He has also been quick to emphasize his view that those who are mentally ill are likely to carry out violent gun acts.

At last night’s CNBC Republican primary debate, Trump said gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.” 

Trump also said he would support lifting gun restrictions at his properties and that he has a gun permit. “I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe, they’re a feeding frenzy for sick people,” he said.

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To Save Medicare, Huckabee Says Fight Chronic Disease

Boulder, Oct. 29 – In an effort to stand out on the crowded stage of the CNBC Republican debate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee offered a different perspective on addressing income inequality and the cost of Medicare.

“We need to be focusing on what fixes this country,” the presidential hopeful said. “Instead of cutting benefits for old people, cutting benefits for sick people, why don’t we say ‘let’s cure the four big cost-driving diseases?’”

Huckabee identified diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s as critical conditions affecting our country and in need of action.

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Jeb: Workforce Participation Rates Lower Than in 1977

Boulder, Oct. 29 – With the American economy in focus at last night’s CNBC debate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush connected dysfunction in Washington with decreasing workforce participation rates and the continuing need for optimism.

When asked about his challenging race, Bush emphasized his belief that “the great majority of…Americans believe in a hopeful future.” He then focused on the continuing challenges facing millions of people working only part-time and living in poverty.

“They’re concerned that Washington is so dysfunctional it is holding them back,” Bush said. “There are lids on people’s aspirations. Think about it: six and a half million people working part-time. Workforce participation rates lower than they were in 1977.”

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O’Malley On “Dignity of Work” for People with Disabilities

Boulder, Oct. 28 – While the night’s spotlight was shining on the CNBC Republican Primary Debate, Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley walked along the paths of the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. In a conversation with The RespectAbility Report, the former governor of Maryland said, “people with disabilities labor under a disproportionally high unemployment rate.”

These comments reflect the economic challenge and harsh reality facing our nation’s 21 million working-age people with disabilities. 321,409 Marylanders between the ages of 18 and 64 have a disability. Of that number, just four out of 10 are currently employed.

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Graham: Count Me In For Medical Marijuana

Washington, Oct. 28 – One topic sure to come up during tonight’s CNBC debate is marijuana legalization. Colorado, the location of the debate, has legalized marijuana. Many of the Republican candidates already have come on the record if they support this or not – often supporting because they support states’ rights to make the decision – or opposing because of the belief that federal law should dictate this.

The night before the debate, Sen. Lindsay Graham played bartender and conducted an interview as the inaugural guest at CNN’s “Politics on Tap” happy hour at the Walnut Brewery in Boulder, the location of tonight’s debate.

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