Civic News & Info
Loebsack to host Law Enforcement Roundtables in Ottumwa, Keokuk, Muscatine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 27 July 2012 08:08

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that he will host three law enforcement roundtables TODAY, July 27th.  Loebsack will visit Ottumwa, Keokuk and Muscatine to meet with city and county officials to discuss the importance of the Byrne JAG Grant awards they each recently received.  They will also discuss other issues that affect local law enforcement. Media is invited to attend.

The Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant (Byrne JAG) Program, is the only source of federal funding for multi-jurisdictional drug task forces that work to prevent, fight and prosecute drug-related and violent crime.  In 2008, Loebsack led the successful bipartisan effort in the House of Representatives to prevent Byrne JAG from being eliminated and has long been a strong supporter of this program.  That effort was supported by the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association and the National District Attorney’s Association, amongst others.


Loebsack Law Enforcement Roundtable Schedule



Wapello County Law Enforcement Center

330 W. Second St.

Second Floor Training Room




Keokuk Police Department

1222 Johnson Street




Muscatine City Hall

215 Sycamore Street




Simon releases findings of rural listening tour PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:47

Will form basis of a strategic plan for Rural Affairs Council

MOLINE – July 26, 2012. More than half of participants at a series of rural listening posts held across Illinois this year said they expect their quality of life to improve in the next five years and cited job creation, education funding and access to affordable healthcare as the top issues facing their communities, Lt. Governor Simon said today.

These are the major themes in a report written by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University detailing the feedback Simon gathered from citizens during her rural listening tour in the spring, which took her to Carbondale, Freeport, Gibson City, Mattoon, Peoria and Quincy.

Simon presented the report to the 25-member Rural Affairs Council during a council meeting in Moline today and said the information will form the basis of a strategic plan that will guide the council’s work and complement its focus on expanding local food access and strengthening rural emergency medical services.

“I look forward to working with council members to turn this feedback into a plan that ensures state government is meeting the needs of rural citizens,” said Simon. “Being from Southern Illinois I appreciate the need for innovative ideas that will boost rural economies.”

Over 360 people attended the listening posts and were asked to rank top concerns in the areas of health care, education, infrastructure, business climate, workforce training and quality of life before giving more detailed input during small roundtable discussions.

Despite the overall optimism of listening post attendees, 37 percent thought the quality of life in their community would get worse due to a lack of good paying jobs, and nearly 35 percent voiced concerns about inadequate school funding. Close to half of participants said the ability of local schools to prepare students either for college or for the workforce was the most important education issue.

Participants gave several ideas on how to alleviate these issues including a greater emphasis on vocational and technical training in addition to better collaboration between schools and local businesses. Participants also identified skills such as literacy and math as skills workers need to improve.

Governor Quinn recently signed a bill that Simon helped draft that directs the Illinois State Board of Education to develop model math curricula that will improve college readiness and workforce preparedness. The law is part of Simon’s efforts to strengthen the state’s community college system and improve college completion rates.

“Too many students arrive at college not prepared for college-level math and too many employers, especially in manufacturing, say workers lack the necessary math skills needed in today’s global economy,” Simon said. “We aim to reduce remediation and  prepare students for careers by strengthening math instruction in middle school and all four years of high school.”

Rising healthcare costs were a top issue for participants as 32 percent of attendees said affordable healthcare was the most important healthcare issue, while another 22 percent cited access and availability of health insurance. Participants said that improved preventative care and healthier lifestyles could help stem rising costs.

Participants also discussed the critical role technology, particularly access to high-speed internet, will play in offering rural areas expanded access to specialists, preventive care and education services and helping control costs through improvements such as electronic medical records.

Improving high-speed internet access was seen by participants as vital to all parts of rural life in Illinois and attendees said it could offer solutions that enable rural residents, businesses and institutions to collaborate, increase efficiency and control costs. But the biggest barrier to expanding internet use was cost, according to 32 percent of attendees.

"We were impressed by the quality of the discussion and the passion that many of the attendees brought to the conversation," said Christopher Merrett, director of the IIRA. "By participating in the Listening Posts, rural residents demonstrated their commitment to their communities and their belief that rural areas are great places to live, work, and do business."

The report directs the Rural Affairs Council to form a work group and use participants’ feedback along with data from the IIRA’s Rural Life Poll, which formed the foundation of the questions asked at the listening posts, to begin work on a strategic plan.

Rural listening posts were held by Lt. Governor George Ryan across Illinois in 1986 and led to creation of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council the following year. In 1998, 2000 and 2007, the Rural Affairs Council, the IIRA and the Illinois Rural Partners, a non-profit, organized listening posts across Illinois to directly gather input from rural citizens.

The Rural Affairs Council is comprised of citizen members and representatives from various state agencies, institutions and organizations that impact rural Illinois. For more information on the council or to read the listening post report visit


Governor Quinn Signs New Consumer Protection Laws PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:20

Laws Protect Residents from Risky Home Loans and “Debtor’s Prison”

CHICAGO – July 25, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn continued his long history of fighting for consumers today by signing two new laws to help Illinois residents avoid risky home loans and protect those who are in debt from being unfairly sent to jail. The new laws increase protections for families from High Risk Home Loans and Refund Anticipation Loans and also establish stringent new guidelines before a borrower can be sent to jail following non-payment of debt.

“Illinois consumers deserve the strongest protections possible from predatory lenders and unfair collection practices,” Governor Quinn said. “These new laws will help consumers and empower Illinois families with a better understanding of lending and debt collection."

Senate Bill 1692, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Summit), makes clear to borrowers the definition of a risky home loan to prevent families from falling into the trap of debt. The law brings Illinois up to federal standards by clarifying and streamlining the definition of a high risk home loan to meet federal guidelines. The law also sets limits on fees and penalties that may be charged when a loan is issued, and prohibits any mortgage from containing pre-payment penalties if a loan is paid off before its term ends.

In addition, Senate Bill 1692 limits how much a taxpayer who is seeking a check or loan tied to their federal and state tax refunds can be charged. Companies that offer such loans will be required to post notices to their customers reminding the taxpayer that if a tax return is filed electronically, any refund owed can be deposited directly into their personal account within eight to 15 days at no cost to the taxpayer. SB 1692 goes into effect Jan. 1.

Also today, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5434, sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), which codifies and clarifies best practices for the post-judgment collection of debts. The law will ensure that debt collectors and lenders provide evidence that there might be unprotected assets available to repay the debt before sending the debtor to jail. This law is designed to ensure that no Illinois residents are incarcerated as a result of being subject to a payment order they cannot afford, or for missing a hearing for which they did not receive notice.

Initiated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the measure was developed after Illinois officials found evidence that customers of licensed consumer lenders were unfairly being sent to jail because of their debt. Testimony from public hearings hosted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) in Alton and Marion earlier this year showed that lenders and creditors have been distorting and exploiting the court system to collect debts.

HB 5434 goes into effect immediately. For more information on debtor’s prison, visit



Governor Quinn Signs Laws to Help Fight Drug Crime and Strengthen Public Safety PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:01

New Laws to Support Law Enforcement and Protect Court Officers

CHICAGO – July 24, 2012. As part of his ongoing efforts to increase public safety in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws that will help law enforcement crack down on drug crime and protect members of the justice system. The governor signed the new laws at the Illinois State Police Forensics Labs in Chicago and was joined by members of Illinois’ law enforcement community who support the new laws, including the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department, and numerous state’s attorneys.

Governor Quinn has signed several new laws this summer to crack down on crime and strengthen public safety, including one that empowers law enforcement to prosecute street gangs as organized crime and a law guarding against sex offenders by requiring park districts to perform employee background checks.

“The men and women who protect us from crime every day need the tools to do their jobs effectively,” Governor Quinn said. “These laws will help law enforcement get more criminals off the street and protect the members of our judicial system as they carry out justice for the people of Illinois."

House Bill 4081, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-Peoria) and Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton), creates an exemption in Illinois’ eavesdropping statute which allows State’s Attorneys to give prior approval for the recording of individuals whom law enforcement suspects will commit a drug crime. The evidence obtained in these recordings may be used only in the prosecution of drug crimes or forcible felonies committed during the investigation of a drug crime. Current law allows law enforcement to obtain a court order to record a drug crime, but delays in that process in the past have resulted in missed crimes. This law is also a safeguard for undercover officers who may require immediate assistance when their lives are in danger.

“As a former State’s Attorney for Madison County, I know this law will be invaluable in reducing the drug crime that plagues our communities,” Sen. Haine said.

This legislation will strengthen the justice system by allowing more credible evidence into criminal proceedings. Judges and juries will be able to hear the actual conversations of those suspected of committing drug crimes, rather than relying on witness testimony that can be unreliable. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will also have more evidence to consider while negotiating plea agreements, which reduce the burden upon the criminal justice system. This new process allows Illinois law enforcement the same flexibility in crime situations as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement in surrounding states. The law is effective January 1.

House Bill 5877, sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), creates the Illinois Judicial Privacy Act, which prohibits individuals, businesses, associations or government agencies from posting a judicial officer’s personal information if that officer has requested in writing that it be removed. Upon receipt of the request, government agencies must remove information that is publicly available within five business days. Individuals, associations and businesses must remove the information within 72 hours. A person who posts personal information knowing that it could pose a threat to the health or safety of a judicial officer or his/her immediate family and which is a proximate cause of injury or death would be guilty of a Class 3 felony.

This legislation is an initiative of the Illinois Judges Association, which has found threats to judges rising steadily over the past decade. It was designed in response to the murder of the mother and husband of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow. Law enforcement believes the two were victims of retaliation against the judge following an unfavorable ruling.

Sections of the law concerning the posting of information are effective within 60 days and provisions affecting information use by the Secretary of State for identification cards, vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses are effective January 1.


Grassley plans August meetings in Southeast Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 23 July 2012 13:09

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley will meet with Iowans in Columbus Junction, Donnellson, Burlington, Agency, Bloomfield, Keosauqua, Mount Pleasant, Lockridge, and Cedar Rapids during the first week of the Senate’s August recess.


“I look forward to these events and meetings to listen to comments and respond to questions.  My town meetings are open to the public, and everyone is welcome.  I also appreciate the opportunity to go to service clubs for Q and A,” Grassley said.  “Representative government is a two-way street and strengthened by dialogue between elected officials and the people we represent.”


Grassley has held at least one meeting with Iowans in every one of the state’s 99 counties since 1980, when he was first elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.


Below is more information about the August 7, 8 and 9 schedule.  Grassley will be available to answer questions from reporters following each event.


Grassley is planning additional meetings with Iowans for the week of August 20.


Tuesday, August 7

9:15-10:15 a.m.

Louisa County Town Meeting

Columbus Junction City Hall, ICN Room

232 2nd Street in Columbus Junction


12 noon-1 p.m.

Lee County Town Meeting

Pilot Grove Savings Bank, Community Center

506 North Main Street in Donnellson


2-3 p.m.

Speak at the Burlington Chamber of Commerce Meeting

Connect with Leadership Series

River Park Place

610 North 4th Street, Suite 200 in Burlington


4:30-5:30 p.m.

Wapello County Town Meeting

Agency Area Community Center

100 West Main Street in Agency


Wednesday, August 8

6:45-7:45 a.m.

Speak to the Bloomfield Rotary Club

Davis County Hospital, Conference Room D

509 North Madison Street in Bloomfield


8:45-9:45 a.m.

Van Buren County Town Meeting

Village Cup and Cakes

202 Main Street in Keosauqua


12 noon-1 p.m.

Speak to the Mount Pleasant Noon Rotary Club

Iowa Wesleyan College Student Center

Second Floor, Food Services Area

Mount Pleasant


1:30-2:30 p.m.

Jefferson County Town Meeting

Lockridge Senior Center

104 West Main Street in Lockridge


Thursday, August 9

5:30 p.m.

Speak at the Central States Shrine Association Legions of Honor Banquet

Cedar Rapids Marriott

1200 Collins Road Northeast in Cedar Rapids



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