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Opportunities for Rural Communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 23 January 2012 16:25

Rural Policy Workshops Held Next Week

Lyons, NE - The Center for Rural Affairs, and the Women Food and Agriculture Network are co-hosting several workshops to discuss how the 2012 Farm Bill and other looming policy debates in Washington will significantly impact rural communities.

“We will also discuss how to communicate with elected officials and other decision-makers, the importance of  local, state and federal policy, how to influence policy decisions that impact you locally, and key issues in the upcoming Farm Bill,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Director for Rural Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs.

“The Farm Bill is more than just farm subsidies and crop insurance,” Bruckner continued. The Farm Bill impacts farmers, ranchers, consumers, small towns and rural mainstreet businesses with investments in conservation, nutrition and school lunches, broadband, housing, small business assistance, rural economic and community development, and much more.

Staff from the Women Food and Agriculture Network will discuss how Farm Bill programs can be used to increase conservation practices and help women landowners in Iowa (women own or co-own 47% of Iowa's farmland) make informed conservation decisions and reach their conservation goals.“We are all affected by rural policy,” said Bruckner. “Join us to find out how you can make your voice heard and to share your ideas with us and other rural leaders who can help you make things happen in your community.”

What: Rural policy workshops

When and Where:
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Harlan Dining Room
Thomas Commons Building
Cornell College
810 Commons Circle
Mount Vernon, IA

Thursday, February 2, 2012
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Wild Rose Casino
777 Main Street
Emmetsburg, Iowa

For more information or to RSVP please contact Virginia Wolking at (402) 687-2100 ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Leigh Adcock at (515) 460-2477.

Light refreshments will be provided.

See www.cfra.org for more information about the Center for Rural Affairs.

 
Iowa Supreme Court Schedules Special Evening Session for Item Veto Case PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Monday, 23 January 2012 16:21

Des Moines, January 23, 2012 —On February 21, the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the item veto case of Homan v. Branstad beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Courtroom on the fourth floor of the Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines. The evening session is primarily for the convenience of members of the public and state officials who would like to attend. Oral arguments are always open to the public.

For more information, visit http://www.iowacourts.gov/Supreme_Court

 
AARP Response to Iowa Utilities Board Staff Memo Analysis of Amended HF 561 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Ann Black   
Monday, 23 January 2012 16:21

Des Moines — A recently released Iowa Utilities Board staff memo critically analyzes a proposed amended version of House File 561, a bill that would allow utilities to raise customers’ rates up front for a possible Iowa nuclear power plant before it is built.  This memo confirms many of AARP’s and other ratepayer concerns and reasons for opposing the proposed legislation.

 

In the memo, the IUB staff notes the various ways an amended HF 561 not only fails to protect consumer interests, but that the proposed changes to Iowa law would actually create incentives for utilities to behave in a manner contrary to the public interest.

 

Even with the last minute amendment, the IUB staff writes (on page 3, section 3) HF 561 “would shift nearly all of the construction, licensing and permitting risk associated with one or more nuclear plants from the company to its customers.” The legislation does this by pre-approving spending and guaranteeing utilities can recover pre-approved prudent costs, “including a profit on capital investments.”

 

The memo also notes that “some of these provisions could create incentives for the company to engage in behavior that could be contrary to the public interest in certain situations.” Among those provisions is a section that would permit the full recovery of all pre-approved expenditures, including profits, even if the utility does not complete the project.

 

Continuing on page 3, the memo presents one example of “the way the bill shifts risk form the company to its customers and creates undesirable incentives.” For example, what happens if the utility company makes a multi-million dollar construction mistake a few years and $1 billion into the project?  The changes HF 561 makes to Iowa law would “effectively create an incentive for the utility to walk away from the plant” because the utility is already guaranteed recovery and profit on all spending up to that point.

 

“This memo supports AARP concerns about shifting the high cost and risks to build an estimated multi-billion plant onto ratepayers before it is built,” said AARP State Director Kent Sovern.  “Besides highlighting the ways this bill incentivizes behavior contrary to the public interest, the memo also details ways this legislation would tie the hands of the Utility Board from protecting and advancing the public interest.”

 

Sovern also praised the Iowa Senate, which did not pass HF 561 last year. “The Senate demonstrated its leadership and its concern for consumers in its refusal last year to pass this legislation. This memo,” Sovern said, “confirms many of the ways this legislation is a raw deal for Iowa consumers.”

 

AARP is concerned about keeping utility rates affordable and accessible, which is particularly an issue for aging Iowans.  November 2011 data shows that despite the fact Iowa had a relatively mild winter, near record numbers of Iowans were still behind on their utility bills. Iowans can make their voices heard and contact their lawmakers on this issue by calling a statewide toll-free connection to the State Senate at 1-800-480-4075, or on line at www.action.aarp.org/ia.

 
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Stop Meth Production PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:58

New Law Will Continue Program to Track Pseudoephedrine Purchases

CHICAGO – January 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will help law enforcement officials stop meth production. Senate Bill 73 makes permanent a pilot program initially created to electronically track pseudoephedrine purchases that could be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

“This program is a valuable tool that helps us prevent meth from getting into our communities by stopping production,” said Governor Quinn. “Tracking the sales of items commonly used to manufacture meth has enabled us to nip production in the bud, and it is important to continue this program.”

The Methamphetamine Precursor Tracking Act took effect in 2009 and required pharmacies to track purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine online through the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). Under SB 73, initiated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and sponsored by Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Sparta), the tracking program becomes permanent. Pharmacies will also block purchases of more than 7.5 grams of pseudoephedrine made within 30 days and purchases of 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine made in a 24-hour time span.

“Unfortunately, meth production is starting to increase again across the state,” Attorney General Madigan said.  “We have found that the PSE tracking system is the best tool law enforcement has to identify criminals who illegally buy cold pills for cooking meth.”

Since its implementation, the program has effectively blocked more than 103,319 boxes - or 230,330 grams - of pseudoephedrine from being used for methamphetamine production in communities throughout Illinois. Additionally NPLEx has assisted the Illinois State Police Methamphetamine Response Teams locate and seize 155 methamphetamine laboratories and make 231 methamphetamine arrests.

“The Illinois State Police have dedicated dozens of trained officers to investigate meth-related crimes and clandestine drug lab sites, which has resulted in the reduction of meth labs seized,” said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. “We are confident that the new statute will continue to help law enforcement track and monitor illegal PSE-based products in Illinois, detect criminal activity and prevent meth labs from forming.”

“The production of meth is a serious concern around the state, particularly in our rural communities,” said Sen. Haine. “I would like to thank Governor Quinn for signing this law to continue tracking PSE products that can be used to manufacture meth.”


“We must do everything we can to keep dangerous drugs like meth out of our communities,” Rep. Costello said. “This new law gives us an edge on shutting down meth labs by helping us find the individuals who are making frequent purchases of meth-making products.”

The legislation passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect immediately.

 

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Police Officer Testing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by John Thorson   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:54
Police Officer testing for the City of Rock Island is open and accepting applications on line. Applicants must have completed a City of Rock Island Police Officer Application by the required deadline to be eligible to take the agility test. Applications must be completed online at www.rigov.org in order to be considered. Applications will be accepted through February 24, 2012 at 5pm. Any questions, please call 309-732-2058.

The physical agility test will be March 3, 2012 at the Pepsico Recreation Center, 1025 – 30th Street, Rock Island, Illinois between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. A valid driver’s license must be presented the day of the agility test. The written test is scheduled for March 3, 2012 at 1pm - location will be announced upon successfully completing the physical agility test. Applicants must have completed a Police Officer application by required deadline to be eligible to take the agility test. A valid driver’s license must be presented at the agility test and written test.

 
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