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County’s HHS amends minimum wage proposal to $15 an hour

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MoCo LogoThe County Council Health and Human Services Committee voted to make two amendments to the current proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The HHS committee voted 2-1 to extend the implementation period by two years and change the definition of a small business from one of 25 employees or less to 50 employees or less.

“It’s very difficult to project what can to happen in the future. We have a madman in the White House,” said Council member and HHS Committee Chairperson George Leventhal (D-at large). “We don’t know where the economy is going to go. Currently the economy remains strong despite the uncertainty of our federal leadership.”

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Firm admits mistakes in minimum wage study

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MoCo LogoThe County-hired consulting firm that conducted a study on raising the minimum wage in Montgomery County said it made a mistake when calculating the results.

“Obviously we take full responsibility for the error in our study,” said Dean Kaplan, managing director of PFM Consulting, the Philadelphia-based firm that conducted the study.

Back when PFM Consulting originally published its study, for which the County paid $149, 600, Leggett said the numbers were sobering. He said the projected job loss results were significant for the County, adding that even half the projected number would be a lot.

“The numbers are so staggering that if you were to still cut it in half, you still have a pretty substantial number,” Leggett said after the study was first released.

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Push back on minimum wage study by County

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MoCo LogoLast week’s release of a Montgomery County-commissioned study if the County increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour was a devastating blow to its proponents.

The results of the study, conducted by Philadelphia-based PFM Consulting group, are a dark prediction for minimum wage increase advocates, projecting the County would lose 47,000 jobs and $396.5 million in aggregate by 2022. The study also concludes that the County’s current minimum wage of $11.50 per hour is too high and the ideal minimum wage for the County would be $11 per hour.

Despite the sharp public relations blow the study dealt to their plan for a minimum wage increase, the members of the County Council that voted in favor of it have no intentions of backing down. However, even with the anticipated public rebuke of the study when its authors speak to the Council on Sept. 19, finding a way to increase the minimum wage will be a daunting task.Advocates on the Council for the minimum wage increase have attacked the study’s methodology saying it was conducted to reflect the sentiments of business owners surveys, saying the study were biased in favor of the feelings of business owners, not economic science.

“To me it’s just a total bogus study,” said Council member Marc Elrich (D-at large), the lead sponsor of the bill to increase the minimum wage.

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Drinking diet soda no safer than regular soda during pregnancy

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Tumbler of cola with iceConsuming diet soda during pregnancy can increase a child's risk of obesity, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health.

"Our findings suggest that artificially-sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages," said Chilin Zhang, an epidemiologist at NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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Metro examines possible effects of heft and vibrations from newer subway cars

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WASHINGTON – Metro is investigating residents’ complaints that trains are causing damage to D.C. homes, according to a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the organization has been looking for rail fasteners that can hold more weight.

Spokesperson Richard Jordan said in a statement Metro is investigating the claims as well as whether Metro even has a role in the vibrations that those D.C. residents reported.

“Metro has retained an independent third-party expert (Wilson Ihrig) to conduct field measurements following complaints of vibration from residents along a specific section of the Green Line,” Jordan said Wednesday. “While Metro has not confirmed the cause or severity of these vibrations – or even confirmed that the complaints are Metro-related, we have committed to conducting independent testing to determine next steps.”

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NIH studies alcoholism in young Native Americans

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BETHESDA – A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and rural youth.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, studied high school students in northeastern Oklahoma and found that two previously designed intervention programs showed a decline in alcohol use.

“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said Dr. George F. Koob, Director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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NIH studies cancer in African Americans

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BETHESDA – The National Institutes of Health has launched a study to examine incidence rates among African-American cancer survivors.

“What we saw was that African-Americans were experiencing higher cancer incidents than any other racial/ethnic group,” said Dr. Joanne Elena, a program director overseeing the study at NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

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NIH study could lead to reversing dementia

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ST LOUIS, MO - A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found a potential method that could prevent and reverse dementia.

The study examined tau proteins, a substance produced in brain cells, and determined that an altered form of DNA can be used to stop the production of the protein. When tau proteins production exceeds a certain level, it causes damage to brain cells that can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“One of the things we found was, when we lowered the amounts of tau in the mouse study, we were able to prevent some of the problems that developed in the animal model,” said Dr. Timothy Miller, a Professor of Neurology at the Washington University of St. Louis.

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Study shows obese couples have lower fertility rates

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BETHESDA – A study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that obese couples may take longer to achieve pregnancy.

“Obesity is a growing epidemic in United States and other countries. While it is common sense that it takes two to get pregnant, recent research has indicated that the male’s contribution has been overlooked,” Rajeshwari Sundaram, a senior investigator at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, wrote in an email.

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NIH study reveals decline in teenage drug use

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BETHESDA – Teen drug use has declined for all substances since 2015, according to a new study by the National Institutes of Health.

“What we are seeing this year, which we saw last year, is significant decreases in the patterns of illicit substances across all ages,” said Nora Volkov, director of NIH’s National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The study surveyed eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in public schools across the contiguous United States on the use and consumption of a variety of substances including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs.

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