Civic News & Info
One Year Later: Harkin Aides Return to Iowa Counties To Discuss Rebuild America Act PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 13 April 2012 12:47
New legislation introduced by Harkin to create jobs, invest in America, And restore balance to tax system

DES MOINES – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced today that his staff will return to all 99 counties this summer to discuss how ideas obtained from Iowans last year on how to rebuild the middle class have influenced legislation introduced by Harkin.  The mobile office tour begins this month in schools in 30 counties.

“Last year, my staff and I heard from too many Iowans who were working hard, playing by the rules, but still seeing the American Dream slip away.  It was clear from those conversations that our country needed a comprehensive strategy to reverse that course,” said Harkin.  “The Rebuild America Act puts policies in place that will repair the engine that drives our nation's economic growth: the middle class.  It creates the good jobs families need now through robust investments in America and will help grow the middle class in the long term by building economic opportunity for families.  I am proud that my staff is able to return to areas they visited last year to tell Iowans how legislation they influenced could benefit their families.”  

The Rebuild America Act, unveiled in March, tackles the problem of the shrinking middle class in four ways: by taking immediate steps to create jobs and kick-start the economy, by investing in our roads, bridges, schools, and other critical infrastructure needs, by implementing policies that will help families achieve financial security and peace of mind, and by paying for these new investments through a balanced tax code that reduces inequality and fosters economic growth.  It comes after a year of hearings and events in Washington and Iowa conducted by Senator Harkin, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and his staff.

This year’s mobile office tour will highlight various aspects of the bill, beginning with provisions that modernize America’s schools.  Harkin has long believed that too many of our nation’s schools are not equipped to meet the needs of 21st Century students and teachers. His legislation provides $20 billion in formula grants for the modernization, renovation, and repair of early learning facilities, K-12 public schools, and community colleges.

Each summer, Senator Harkin’s staff visits each Iowa County to talk to Iowans about the issues impacting them and their families.  Staff will then post information on their visits on Senator Harkin’s web site (http://harkin.senate.gov/)

A full list of events for this year’s tour is still coming together, but all events will be advised to media by county.


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OLSON’S OBSERVATIONS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steven Olson   
Friday, 13 April 2012 12:39

Abill that sets the school start date no earlier than the fourth Monday in August passed the House with a 54-44 vote. Many parents, citizens, and tourism groups have supported the bill as well but its fate isn’t certain in the Senate. As it stands, state law says the earliest schools can open is the week that includes September 1st but the majority of districts request, and are granted, waivers to start earlier. The Governor has hinted at preventing the Dept. of Education from granting those waivers and forcing the schools to honor the current code if the Senate fails to act.

Tax increment financing (TIF) is an economic growth tool that many areas of the state have used wisely, but there have been blatant abuses by some that brought the TIF Reform bill to the House Floor. TIF Reform relates to the city and county authority to address slum and blight and economic development by modifying Iowa’s urban renewal law, providing for future repeal of Iowa’s urban renewal law, authorizing cities and counties to establish project development areas to utilize tax increment financing for certain projects. A highlight of the bill, in most cases, states the three taxing entities; city, county, and school governments need to have a majority agreement on the need for TIF enactment. There are too many more topics related to TIF that are covered in the bill to mention in this article.

With the only the budget left to come across the House Floor, Health and Human Services, I would anticipate conference committee assignments on all of the other budgets yet this week. I believe this signals the end of session is near, possible by April 20th.

If you have concerns or questions I can be reached at the Capitol by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
THURSDAY: Braley to Discuss Adoption Tax Credit Bill in Davenport, Dubuque; Visit Camanche for Ribbon-Cutting PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 08:49

Braley highlighting new legislative effort to renew, expand tax cut for families who adopt 

 

Washington, DC – On Thursday in Davenport and Dubuque, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will hold events to discuss a legislative effort he’s launching to renew and expand a tax credit for families that choose to adopt children. Braley will be joined at the stops by local adoption agency representatives.

 

When Congress returns next week, Braley will introduce the Making Adoption Affordable Act, a bill to permanently extend a federal tax credit for qualified adoption expenses.  The legislation also expands the tax credit to $13,360 and makes refundable, allowing more families to take full advantage of it.

 

Braley will also attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Camanche Fire and Police station.  Braley secured funding for the department to purchase a new emergency generator.

 

Thursday April 12th, 2012

 

10:00am               Braley Event to Discuss Adoption Tax Credit Bill

Bethany for Children and Families

1202 W. 3rd St.

Davenport, Iowa

 

11:30am               Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Camanche Fire and Police Station

917 3rd St.

Camanche, Iowa

 

3:00pm                 Braley Event to Discuss Adoption Tax Credit Bill

Hillcrest Family Services Clinic

220 W. 7th St.

Dubuque, Iowa

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Iowa Legislative Update PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Peggy Huppert   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:19

Unfortunately this was another week of not much progress on our priority issues.  The Iowa House still has not taken up the Health & Human Services appropriations bill, so now it looks like the Senate will move a bill first next week. The good news in this development is that the Senate bill contains $5.3 million for tobacco prevention and cessation programs compared to $0 in the House bill and $2.8 million this year.

The Iowa House passed a bill this week that usually gets little attention – the annual Insurance Division bill, made up of changes to the law that the state Insurance Commissioner recommends. This year a number of amendments to the bill made it controversial. One, dealing with navigators in the health insurance Exchange (which has not yet been established by the Legislature), is of particular concern to us.

This amendment is plainly bad public policy, and here’s why:

 

  • It creates the potential to raise the cost of the navigators, thereby resulting in higher than necessary consumer out-of-pocket or premium costs.

 

  • The new federal regulations allow the states to set up a licensure process for navigators, but the process in this amendment would be very similar to that of insurance agents and brokers, essentially making them de facto agents and brokers.

 

  • The licensure process, fees and bond requirements in the amendment, none of which are required by federal law, will be a barrier for nonprofit organizations and individuals other than agents and brokers who may want to become navigators.

 

  • The core function of the navigators is supposed to be to help consumers understand the range of options for which they are eligible within the Exchange, including public programs like Medicaid and S-CHIP. Navigators are also required to offer assistance with the tax credits available for anyone with an income below 400 percent of the federal poverty level. There is no mention in the amendment of these duties, nor the training required to carry them out.

 

  • The amendment is an unnecessary, backdoor way of tying the hands of an Exchange in Iowa without creating a state Exchange.  The Exchange is the entity that has the obligation to establish the navigator system, train them, contract with them, and fund them.

 

  • If this amendment becomes law, Iowa would be the first and only state to create a navigator licensure provision without having first established an Exchange.

 

In summary, this amendment could result in higher health insurance premiums, limit access to free navigator services, and potentially violate federal law. There is no question that it violates the principles agreed to by the Iowa Health Advocates, a coalition of patient and consumer groups of which the Cancer Society is a part.

We will be working to get this objectionable amendment removed from the bill or add language to make it more advantageous for patients and consumers. Stay tuned for an Action Alert early next week.

As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Governor Quinn Announces $1.4 Million Roadway Improvement Project for West Central Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:23

Project Will Pave Way for NTN-Bower Corporation Expansion; Create 80 New Jobs

MACOMB, IL – April 6, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $1.4 million roadway improvement project along Bower Road in the city of Macomb. The project supports economic growth in West Central Illinois by paving the way for NTN-Bower Corporation to expand its Macomb facility, creating 80 new jobs over the next two years.

“Illinois has one of the best transportation networks in the country, and we are committed to strengthening our infrastructure,” Governor Quinn said. “This project will help ensure the city of Macomb and the entire West Central Illinois region can continue to compete and attract investment.”

“When I visited NTN-Bower a few months ago, I was impressed by its strong leadership and potential for growth. Strengthening the infrastructure around this growing company is the right thing to do. By upgrading the roads to manage the increased heavy truck traffic in the area, the state of Illinois and the federal government are helping to lay the groundwork for the company’s expansion and the good paying jobs it will create,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The roadway project includes widening and resurfacing an intersection of Bower Road and U.S. 136 (Jackson St.), adding signals, a south leg, and a turn lane for traffic on U.S. 136. Work also involves extending the right storage lane for southbound traffic on Bower Road and resurfacing a shoulder northward on Bower Road to support increased traffic brought on by NTN’s expansion.

NTN, a manufacturer of tapered and cylindrical roller bearings, is investing $100 million to construct a new plant directly east of their existing operations at 711 North Bower Road in Macomb.  Additional production lines will also be purchased and installed in the new plant. The new plant will be approximately 200,000 square feet and will create 80 permanent, full-time jobs. Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in May 2012, with completion slated for April 2013. Roadway construction is expected to begin in mid-August 2012, weather permitting, and is scheduled to be complete by the end of November.

“I am pleased NTN-Bower’s expansion will receive funding from the Community Development Assistance Program, the Truck Access Route Program, and the Economic Development Program.  This expansion will create jobs, which is my top priority,” stated Sen. John Sullivan (D-Macomb).

Funding for the project is made possible through nearly $1.2 million in grant funds from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Economic Development Program and Truck Access Route Program. The city of Macomb also received a $231,000 grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Community Development Assistance Program.

“The city of Macomb is grateful for the funding assistance provided by the Illinois Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Transportation for improvements to U.S. 136 and Bower Rd,” said Macomb Mayor Michael Inman. “These improvements were important in securing the expansion of NTN-Bower’s operations in Macomb. The funding will allow Macomb to meet the increased demand for traffic volume, brought about by NTN’s expansion.”

DCEO administers Illinois’ CDAP program, which is known nationally as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and provides federal funding for a variety of community-based projects to communities with populations of 50,000 or less.

“This project demonstrates the power of federal, state, community and private partnerships,” said Antonio R. Riley, HUD’s Midwest Regional Administrator. “We are pleased to see CDBG funds being leveraged to create jobs and spur economic development in Illinois.”

The purpose of IDOT’s Economic Development Program (EDP) is to provide state assistance in improving highway access to new or expanding industrial distribution or tourism developments, and to create new employment opportunities. The department’s Truck Access Route Program (TARP) is combined with funding for Economic Development Program projects and helps local governments upgrade roads to accommodate 80,000 pound truck loads.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for any business, visit www.illinoisbiz.biz.

 

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