Capitol Comments

The first lab-confirmed case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S. was confirmed by the CDC in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 30, 2014. The man, identified as Thomas Eric Duncan, had traveled from Liberia to Texas and passed away on Oct. 8, 2014. Two healthcare workers treating Mr. Duncan subsequently became infected, but have since been cleared and released. The CDC confirmed that a fourth case was diagnosed on Oct. 24, 2014 in a medical aid worker in New York City who had returned from serving with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. The patient is currently in isolation in a New York City hospital.

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded almost $170 million in grants to help put long-term unemployed Americans back to work as part of the Ready to Work Partnership initiative. The grants, which range in value from $3 million to $10 million, will go to 23 partnerships and serve individuals across 20 states and in Puerto Rico. A few of the grantees – like the Memphis Bioworks Foundation – will support projects in multiple states.

On Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against a local businessman - Jackson T. Stephens Jr., who is also board chairman of the Club for Growth - thus allowing a question about the state's minimum wage to remain on the ballot. Mr. Stephens argued that supporters of the initiative did not hit a key deadline for submitting their petition and that some of the signatures on that petition were forged. 

On Election Day 2014, voters in Arkansas will decide if the 30,000 people in their state who earn the minimum wage should get a raise for the New Year. The ballot measure, called the Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative, would give minimum wage earners a $0.25/hour raise on Jan. 1, 2015 - equal to about $40 more a month for a full-time worker. The measure would raise the wage twice more over the next two years, until it reaches $8.50 in 2017.

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. Governors’ salaries in 2014 range from a low of $70,000 per year to a high of $187,818, with an average salary of $134,390. When adjusted for inflation, the average salary in 2014 is very close to what it was 77 years ago, the first year CSG started collecting data.

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