Civic News & Info
OLSON’S OBSERVATIONS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Steven Olson   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:34

The Transportation Operations Budget and Administration & Regulations Budget passed the House last week. The Trans. Op Budget makes appropriations to the Road Use Tax Fund ($47.6 mil FY 2013) and Primary Road Fund ($303.2 mil FY 2013). The Admin/Reg. Budget provides for regulatory authority and appropriations for certain state departments, agencies, funds, and other entities. The House amendment appropriates ($49.6 mil from General Fund FY 2013) a decrease from last year, while the bill itself appropriates ($54.1 mil from other funds FY 2013) an increase from last year.

House File 2421, mental health and disability redesign, implements recommendations from the Judicial Branch and DHS Workgroup regarding improvements to mental health proceedings. The bill requires law enforcement to complete courses in mental health first aid, pre-assessment screening for involuntary commitment to determine their mental health needs no matter when they are  brought to court. This bill also establishes “Mental Health Professionals” as one consistent definition in Iowa code, as well as, establishing standards for mental health advocates and expanding service to Iowans with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse diagnosis.

I’ve received many emails concerning the Medicaid reimbursement issue and at this time I’m not sure of the fate of the  reimbursement. When I know something I’ll be informing you here. Thank you for keeping me informed of issues that matter to you.

The tuition set-aside policy, an issue that many at the capitol were unaware of, has led to negotiations with the Board of Regents which will provide full transparency with how student tuition payments are dealt with at each Board of Regents’ universities.

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 .

 
New rescue equipment will help save lives in Eldridge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Paul Spooner   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:29

Local farmer directs $2,500 to fire department

 

ELDRIDGE, Iowa (Mar. 20, 2012) – Seventy percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteer and one of the few opportunities for these departments to update their rescue and training equipment is through community donations. Thanks to one local farmer and America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM, the Eldridge Fire Department can continue to keep its community and surrounding area safe.

Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite local nonprofit organizations. Richard and Mary Hemphill were the winning farmers in Scott County. They recognized the need for new rescue equipment and directed the donation to the Eldridge Fire Department. The donation will be used to purchase additional rescue tools and training materials.”

“The Eldridge firefighters have been to my farm a couple times to put out grain dryer fires,” Richard Hemphill said. “It’s a volunteer fire department, and this is a good way to say thank you.”

In a ceremony held on Tuesday, Mar. 20, Richard and Mary got the chance to present the Eldridge Fire Department with the $2,500 donation.

Through America’s Farmers Grow Communities:

·         Farmers in 1,245 eligible counties have the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organizations.

·         The Monsanto Fund has invested more than $3.1 million to rural communities this year alone.

·         More than $247,500 in total will be donated to nonprofits in Iowa

·         A list of all winners and more information can be found at  www.growcommunities.com

“Our fire department has had an increase in rescue calls, so we will purchase essential rescue tools with the donation,” said Tyler Schmidt, Eldridge fire chief. “Funds will also be used to purchase training materials to supplement our continual training program.”

Grow Communities is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to invest in farm communities such as Scott County. It aims to highlight the important contributions farmers such as Richard and Mary Hemphill make every day to our society.

 

About the Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at www.monsantofund.org.

 

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Braley Urges Congress to Renew Violence Against Women Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:27

Unless Congress acts, law strengthening prosecution of violent crimes against women expires at the end of 2012

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today called on House leaders to immediately consider a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, and signed on as the first male cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012.  Unless Congress acts, the provisions of the Violence Against Women law will expire at the end of the year.

“Renewing the Violence Against Women Act will help break the cycle of violence against women, and provide victims the care they need,” Braley said.  “I was moved by Representative Gwen Moore’s powerful statement on the House floor yesterday about her own struggles with sexual violence. Unfortunately, this type of violence is far too common and transcends politics, race, and religion.

 

“I am hopeful that we can put aside politics to renew and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act.  I urge House leaders to come together now to continue making progress in protecting Iowa women from violence.”

 

First signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act enhanced the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women and significantly strengthened penalties for offenders convicted of violent crimes against women.  The law also required the federal prosecution of interstate domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, and guaranteed the interstate enforcement of protection orders.  The annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50% since the law was originally enacted.

 

Video of Rep. Gwen Moore’s statement on the Violence Against Women Act can be viewed at the following link; Moore is the lead sponsor of the Reauthorization Act: http://youtu.be/R0_PsN4R23k

 

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Governor Quinn Applauds Hiring Our Heroes Career Expo PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:22

Illinois Partners with U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Put More Veterans to Work

 

CHICAGO – March 28, 2012. Governor Quinn today attended a Hiring Our Heroes job fair and praised the event as a key tool to help Veterans return to work and showcase tax incentives available to businesses who choose to hire our returning heroes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Department of Employment Security were the principal sponsors of the second annual Chicago event.

 

“Our Veterans defended our country and now they deserve our help as they transition into the workforce,” Governor Quinn said. “These brave men and women offer valuable skills to Illinois employers, and this effort is a good way to connect them quickly to jobs that are available.”

 

More than 1,000 jobseekers seized the opportunity to interview with the more than 100 Chicago-area businesses that participated in the career expo. Sponsors of the event include the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, U.S. Department of Labor, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America and Operation Support our Troops.

 

“Hiring Our Heroes launched last year in Chicago with more than a hundred veterans and military spouses securing jobs and we haven’t looked back since,” Lt. Col. (Ret.) Kevin Schmiegel, founder and executive director of the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program and a 20-year Marine veteran, said. “Now more than 9,000 have been hired through our program, and Governor Quinn is helping to kick off our second year goal of 400 hiring fairs nationwide. We are helping move the needle on the high rates of unemployment facing post 9-11 veterans and military spouses.”

 

Veterans are sought-after employees for their service training, which includes respect for authority, embracing responsibility and success operating in a team-based environment. Servicemembers also have advanced training in technology, manufacturing, construction and logistics.

 

A state income tax credit of up to $1,200 is available to businesses for each qualified Veteran who is hired. Governor Quinn has proposed extending and increasing the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit to spur additional economic growth. Employers may also qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $9,600 through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

 

In 2011, the IDES provided re-employment services to more than 45,000 Veterans. Nationally, the unemployment rate for Veterans post 9-11 remains higher than the general population.

 

“More than 500 employees at the Department of Employment Security are Veterans, so we know the value of their leadership, training and dedication,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “We also know the special bond soldiers have for each other. That is why we have a special team of Veterans whose sole purpose is to match fellow soldiers with current job openings.”

 

Governor Quinn has championed Veterans and servicemembers throughout his career. In 2011, he signed legislation to ensure Veteran-owned businesses are able to compete for state contracts. Among other accomplishments, as Lt. Governor, Quinn launched the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists called to active duty. To date, this fund has helped 25,000 family members of Illinois veterans by raising $13 million for their families, and has been replicated in 35 states.

 

"Veterans are among our nation's most proven and committed public servants," Director of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Erica Borggren said. "They are a tremendous resource for Illinois companies, and I'm encouraged to see so many employers actively seeking to hire these heroes."

 

Illinois has added more than 130,000 jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned to Illinois after 23 consecutive months of declines. Since the recovery began in January 2010, Illinois has averaged 4,000 new jobs each month. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen for six consecutive months, even as more individuals return to the labor force to seek work.

 

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HUD, VA PROVIDES PERMANENT HOUSING AND SUPPORT TO HOMELESS VETS IN IOWA PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Donna M. White   
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 08:06

Latest estimate shows national veterans homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide $83,870 to the Davenport Housing Commission in Iowa to supply permanent housing and case management for 15 homeless veterans in the state.

The permanent supportive housing assistance announced today is provided through HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH), a program administered by HUD, VA, and local housing agencies across the country.  Read a complete local breakdown of the rental vouchers announced today.

“It’s a national disgrace that one out of every six men and women in our shelters once wore a uniform to serve our country,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “But we know that by providing housing assistance and case management services, we can significantly reduce the number of veterans living on our streets.  Working together, HUD, VA and local housing agencies are making real progress toward ending veteran homelessness once and for all.”

“Under the leadership of President Obama, we have made significant progress in the fight to end homelessness among veterans, but more work remains,” said VA Secretary Shinseki. “The partnership between the federal government and community agencies across the country has strengthened all of our efforts to honor our veterans and keep us on track to prevent and eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015.”

This funding to local housing agencies is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015.  Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local agreements to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women.

The grants announced today are part of $75 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2012 to support the housing needs of approximately 10,500 homeless veterans.  VA Medical Centers (VAMC) provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless veterans. This is the first of two rounds of the 2012 HUD-VASH funding.  HUD expects to announce the remaining funding by the end of this summer.

“These grants are reducing the number of homeless veterans in Iowa and one day we will see this travesty end,” said HUD Regional Administrator Derrith Watchman-Moore.

VAMCs work closely with homeless veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing.  The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.

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HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and  transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available at www.hud.gov and  http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.

 
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