Business & Economy
Braley Introduces Bill to Streamline Regulations, Save Small Businesses Money PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 15:40

Plain Regulations Act would require government rules be written in clear, concise language


Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced a new bill – his first of 2012 – to streamline government regulations in an effort to save small businesses time and money.

The Plain Regulations Act would require the government to write new and updated regulations in clear, simple, easy-to-understand language.

“Whether you like or loathe government regulations, I think everyone can agree that when they exist they should be written as clearly as possible,” Braley said.  “Sadly, gobbledygook dominates the regulations issued by government agencies, making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand the rules of the road.


“The Plain Regulations Act would simplify rules, saving small businesses time and freeing up money that can be better used investing in growing the business and creating jobs.”


The costs to small businesses of complying with government regulations are significant.  The National Small Business Association has estimated that businesses with less than 20 employees pay an estimated $7,600 per employee to comply with regulations.

“Simplifying regulations won’t eliminate the costs of compliance, but it will reduce them.  And it’s an easy way to save small businesses money that can quickly attract bipartisan support.”


Examples of lengthy, overly complex regulations abound.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services recently published a 189 page rule outlining the requirements for doctors to form Accountable Care Organizations.  Doctors have complained that the regulations are too complex and convoluted for them to understand.


Braley is known for his efforts to simplify government writing.  In 2007, Braley launched a three-year effort to require the government to write forms and documents like tax returns in easy-to-understand language with the introduction of the Plain Writing Act.  The bill was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, and improves the accountability of the federal government by promoting clear communication that the public can understand and use.  The law went into effect in July of 2011.

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International Traders of Iowa- Eastern Iowa Chapter (ITI-EIC) PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dee Freeman   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 10:06
The International Traders of Iowa, Eastern Iowa Chapter, is holding and information and membership meeting on Tuesday, February 7th from 5:30 – 7:30 at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, 525 33rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids IA 52404.

To kick off our membership event, special Corporate membership pricing is available for only $100 through March 15. (A savings of $50!) Discounted Student Pricing Available! We will be holding a drawing to give away one (1) free corporate membership, and one (1) voucher for a free meeting.   Bring your business cards!

Questions and RSVPs can be directed to:
Deanna (Dee) Freeman, President, 319-295-2490, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Melissa Jones, Vice President, 319-393-4310, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Or visit for more information.

Ever wonder what it costs to quit a labor union? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ben Velderman   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:46
GRANT, Mich.  – Ever wonder what it costs to quit a labor union?
For one Michigan educator, the annual costs of “non-membership” in the local, state and national teacher unions total $544.28.
But Andrew Buikema, 10-year teacher with Grant Public Schools, is willing to pay the price, just for the privilege of being seen as a true professional, instead of a union worker.
Michigan is not a “right to work” state, which means Buikema’s job is still affected by the district’s contract with the local teachers union, the Grant Education Association. The GEA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association and the National Education Association.
Buikema has been trying to leave the union since last spring, when he realized that GEA leaders were uninterested in helping the district control costs, even in the face of a multi-million dollar deficit.
By refusing to make wage and benefit concessions, the union contributed to conditions that led to 27 teachers – including Buikema – receiving layoff notices. The district was also forced into making cuts to student academic and extracurricular programs.
Buikema’s job was saved at the last minute, but he was disgusted by the union’s selfishness.
The union’s intransigence convinced Buikema that “the union doesn’t care about kids.”
“They keep asking for more and more, even though the school district can’t afford it,” he told EAG. “They’re concerned about taking care of the adults and have no consideration for the kids. I don’t want to be part of an organization that says one thing and does another,” he said.
Buikema said he was “raked over the coals” by his local union leaders when he suggested the GEA could help alleviate the district’s financial woes – and possibly help save some teaching jobs – by switching from union-owned and operated MESSA health insurance to a less expensive carrier.
Buikema estimated that the district could save between $530,000 and $980,000 annually.
Not only did local union leaders not like Buikema’s idea, but they verbally attacked him for even suggesting it. “The amount of flak I got, particularly from veteran teachers, was ridiculous to the point of being unprofessional,” he said.
Buikema was also put off by the NEA’s new $10 levy on members to help re-elect President Obama."It’s the principle involved,” Buikema said at the time. “They’re taking money to support a candidate that members may or may not support. That’s a very big deal.”
Unions bury dissenters in pile of legal documents

Last summer, Buikema decided to cancel his union membership altogether. The MEA and NEA finally responded to his resignation request last month by sending approximately 150 pages of documents. The upshot of all those documents is this: Buikema can technically quit both unions, but he must still pay them $544.28 in “service fees,” which equals 67.7 percent of a normal union membership.
“Dear Non-Member,” the MEA letter begins, “You are employed in a bargaining unit represented by an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association. … Your collective bargaining agreement contains a provision which requires you to join the association or to pay a service fee.”
Another document explains that those service fees are based on “annual expenditures … incurred for the purpose of performing the duties of an exclusive representation of the employees.”
The unions claim the service fee only pays for activities that don’t involve an “ideological cause or political activity unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, grievance adjustment and lawfully chargeable employee representation.” A 64-page document breaks down all of the separate charges that go into the $544.28 fee, and explains how each is allowed under current law.
Yesterday, Buikema sent his own letter to the MEA:
"I am enclosing a check for $25 to the MEA, because that's what I can afford to do right now. You will receive the remaining balance as I am able to pay. ...
" ... Forcing teachers to join your organization and pay dues is criminal. What happened to free will and the right to choose? I am trying to get out of the union because you don't stand for kids.
" ... You send this massive packet of ... legal documents that I cannot decipher because I am not a lawyer ... to do what exactly? Scare me? Intimidate me? What you are proving is that you will go to great lengths to get people's money. ..."
As a non-member, Buikema has the legal right to contest any of the “service fee” charges, but it entails a long and complicated legal process. And the MEA and NEA are well-represented by lawyers and accountants, as the stack of documents makes clear. The implication is obvious: It is futile for an individual teacher to protest the hundreds of dollars in fees. “They’re just going to make you pay anyway,” Buikema concludes.
Buikema says some of his colleagues have expressed interest in also breaking away from the union, but are taking a wait-and-see approach. “Most teachers like to be safe and stay in their comfort zone,” Buikema said. “I don’t care about that.”
Buikema has remained an outspoken union critic, and wants to be seen as a true professional whose worth is solely determined by his performance in the classroom, and not by his ranking on the seniority chart.
That won’t truly happen until Michigan becomes a right to work state, and union membership is no longer compulsory. Until then, Buikema chooses to be a “non-member” and will pay $544.28 for the privilege.


Governor Quinn Announces 100 New Jobs at Excel Foundry & Machine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 14:01

State Investment will Help Company Expand Operations,
Boost North Central Illinois Economy

PEKIN – January 17, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Excel Foundry & Machine, a company located in Pekin, Illinois, plans to expand operations and create 100 new jobs over the next two years. The state’s investment will help Excel, a manufacturer of bronze parts for the mining industry, expand its global footprint and boost economic development in North Central Illinois.

“Illinois’ strong manufacturing tradition is due in large part to the strength of our workforce, our ability to help companies to move product quickly and our investments in infrastructure,” Governor Quinn said. “Excel is one example of how supporting our small and mid-sized manufacturers continues to increase Illinois’ competitiveness.”

Excel plans to invest $7.4 million to construct a new 108,750 square foot warehouse adjacent to its existing plant, in addition to an 8,600 square foot addition to the main office and a 3,373 square foot addition to the foundry. The project will result in 100 new jobs in addition to its existing 230-person workforce.

The state is investing more that $1 million consisting of Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits, which are based on job creation, and an Employer Training Incentive Program grant to help enhance the skills of its workforce. The state’s investment is contingent on the company meeting its investment and job numbers.

Tazewell County will also receive a $750,000 Community Development Assistance Program grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and more than $859,000 through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Economic Development Program for road improvements to accommodate the expansion.

“I am pleased that Excel will continue its  tradition of manufacturing excellence right here in Illinois,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “Through projects such as this, we are keeping our manufacturing sector strong, creating jobs for the future and supporting our long-term economic growth.”

“Providing safe, reliable infrastructure is critical to protecting and creating jobs,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “We are proud to contribute to a project that will help a local company grow and invest in the community.”

Illinois added 62,300 jobs in 2011 and 105,600 jobs since January 2010. Since January 2010, the state has added 18,200 manufacturing jobs.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for any business, visit


President's proposal on U.S. trade agency consolidation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 16 January 2012 15:28

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on President Obama’s proposal to reorganize and consolidate U.S. trade agencies.

“The enactment of trade agreements has been a hard slog with the President.  Any reorganization that disrupts trade negotiations and expanded markets for U.S. businesses and farmers would cause me serious concern.  Consolidation that doesn’t hurt export opportunities might make sense.  Congress will need to look at this proposal carefully.  It’s not surprising that the President is focusing on this area for consolidation.  Trade is already a lower priority than it should be for this White House.”

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