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Walcott First PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Phil Roberts   
Thursday, 24 March 2011 08:23

Walcott, Iowa (March 22, 2011) -- Walcott is open for business! That’s the message from Walcott First, an organization formed last November by Walcott Mayor Jim Couper.

Couper said he proposed formation of the new group, a cross section of Walcott residents and business people, as a community development group, not as an economic development group. He said it will be independent and not tied to the city in any way.

Walcott has become a bedroom community, Couper said in explaining the need for Walcott First.

“We have a community where people live, and that’s all they do. We’ve got to be better than that,” he said.

He said his goal is bringing smaller businesses like restaurants and stores to Walcott as opposed to attracting large businesses and industry.

Couper will serve as chairman of Walcott First. He appointed Jason Holdorf administrator and director and Brent Arp assistant director.

Members of the organization have not yet determined how it will be organized from a legal standpoint. First they’re anxious to set some small goals and accomplish them.

Couper said that will provide momentum and “show the community that we are aggressively in place.”

Working with a city entity, the Walcott Vision Committee, to get an attractive Welcome to Walcott sign placed at Main Street and Old Highway 6 was one suggestion for an initial project. Building a skate park for youngsters was another.

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For more information about Walcott First, contact Jim Couper, (563) 284-5096, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Jason Holdorf, (563) 284-6722, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Capitol Comments - Week 6 in the Iowa Senate PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck   
Friday, 18 February 2011 16:46

After six weeks of session, the Iowa Senate started debating this week.  Two bills set the posturing stage and had more meaning in messaging than actual content of the legislation.  House File 45 was approved by the Iowa House in the second week of session with a projected cut in state spending of $500 million over three years.  This same bill was passed out of the Senate on Thursday with a projected cut in spending of $10 million over a three year period.  Though many believe this bill is destined for a conference committee showdown, it is more likely the bill is done.  Think of this bill as a form of messaging between the Republican majority in the House and the Democratic majority in the Senate and how they perceive each other’s goals.  True government spending appears in appropriations bills.  Both sides understand a zero line item in House File 45 doesn’t limit actual funding of a program in May.

The second posturing bill came in the establishment of allowable growth for education spending.  After the House previously approved zero percent allowable growth the Senate on Wednesday passed allowable growth at 2%.  Knowing the establishment of an allowable growth rate at any percent in February is superficial to the actual appropriation which the legislature makes in May I asked the Senate Appropriations Chair to explain how we plan to fund education this year at any level. My line of questioning was shut down by the Senate President citing, the state’s future ability to pay is irrelevant to the establishment of a promise to pay today.  This idea makes complete sense, only when you don’t think about it.  Though this bill is destined for a conference committee showdown, only through appropriations will we see how much the state picks up and how much falls on local property taxpayers.

The Senate moved in a positive direction in debate Thursday afternoon when we unanimously approved Senate File 209 which called for the full coupling of the Iowa Tax Code with the Federal Tax Code.  This bill allows Iowa taxpayers to deduct items on their state income tax filings similar to their federal filings. Think of it as a nearly $200 million savings to taxpayers.  Though it does not take effect until you do your taxes next year, it is still a positive move for keeping more money in your hands.

On a side note, the buzz has started over redistricting.  The conference board members are set, census data is out and maps will soon be drawn.  I have not grown as curious or apprehensive about changes as many of my colleagues.  I have no doubt I may lose half my district or even more.  Be proud in the fact Iowa is an exemplar in setting districts; politicians don’t get to make this decision.

Shawn Hamerlinck
State Senate District 42

 
Analysis of House Budget Cuts on Law Enforcement in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 18 February 2011 12:31

Washington, D.C. - February 18, 2011.

This week, the U.S. House is considering a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011.  The current funding proposal expires on March 4, 2011.  Analysis released today shows that the budget proposal will have a detrimental impact on law enforcement in Iowa.

Harkin’s full statement on the budget proposals before Congress can be found here.

“Cutting essential law enforcement funding is not the answer,” said Harkin.  “Iowa continues to face a meth problem, with the number of meth labs up 50 percent since 2007.  And, drugs and crime continue to impact our communities.  Cuts to law enforcement will make our streets less safe and our nation less secure.  

“There is no question that the time has come for tough budget decisions, but the smart way to bring down the deficit is for Congress to pursue a balanced approach of major spending cuts and necessary revenue increases.”


Below are some specific cuts Iowa will face in law enforcement if the House budget is enacted.

State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

The House proposal cuts $250 million from State and local law enforcement assistance by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP). If enacted, this will result in significant cuts to essential programs that are critical to ensuring Iowa’s cities and towns are safe and drug free.  Most significantly, this would inadequately fund the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) program.

One of the most important uses of this funding is for multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, which help local law enforcement reduce drug-related violent crime and gang activity in our communities.  Nationally, Byrne/JAG funding leads to over 200,000 arrests, over 50,000 weapons seized, and the breakup of over 9,000 methamphetamine labs each year.

Last year over $24 million in OJP grants came to Iowa, supporting jobs for over 90 Iowans who are directly responsible for making our state safer.  In Iowa, Byrne funded drug task forces:

•    Were responsible for over 2,400 felony arrests;
•    Dismantled 275 gangs;
•    Seized over 8,200 illegal firearms;
•    Seized nearly 20,000 kilograms of illicit drugs, like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine;

These successes show we need to continue to support this program, not cut it back.

Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities

The House proposal would cut $50 million for drug interdiction and counter-drug activities. This includes funding for 14 state counter-drug plans and five regional counter-drug training centers, to include the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center (MCTC) at Camp Dodge.  Without this funding, MCTC would be forced to close its doors, and thousands of law enforcement officials would go without necessary training.  Additionally, federal funding for the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force would be cut, effectively shutting down the program.

If this cut were enacted:

•    Nearly 7,000 Iowa law enforcement officials would not receive necessary counterdrug training at MCTC.  
•    State and local law enforcement officials would not receive support such as intelligence analysis and aviation support from the Iowa Counterdrug Task force.  
•    Thirty jobs would be lost at the Iowa Counterdrug Task Force.  
•    Twenty-three jobs would be lost at MCTC.

 
Harkin Announces $5 Million for Iowa Public Transportation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 18 February 2011 12:17

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced today that the Iowa Department of Transportation received $5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration’s State of Good Repair Grant Program. Harkin is a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds transportation initiatives.  The funds will be allocated to local transit agencies across the state as listed below based on a mileage formula.

“These funds will help transit agencies provide safe and efficient transportation for people, especially the elderly and those with disabilities, get to work and around their communities,” Harkin said.

Individual grant recipients are listed below.

Des Moines ($161,020)
2 buses

Fort Dodge ($526,220)
3 buses

Iowa City ($777,150)
3 buses

Sioux City ($345,600)
1 bus

Waterloo ($896,400)
3 buses

Region 1 (Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties; and Sioux counties) ($107,900)
1 Minivan
1 bus

Region 4 (Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Plymouth, Woodbury, and Southern Union Counties; and South Dakota counties) ($112,847)
2 buses

Region 5 (Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright counties) ($353,580)
4 buses

Region 6 (Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama counties) ($204,180)
1 Minivan
3 buses

Region 9 (Cedar, Clinton, Muscatine, and Scott; and the Illinois Quad Cities area) ($302,950)
5 buses

Region 10 (Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties) ($95,450)
1 Minivan
1 bus

Region 11 (Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, and Warren counties) ($434,090)
6 buses
1 Minivan

Region 12 (Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Greene, Guthrie, and Sac counties) ($62,665)
1 bus

Region 13 (Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties) ($255,640)
4 buses

Region 14 (Adair, Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Ringgold, Taylor, and Union counties) ($125,330)
2 buses

Region 15 (Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Lucas, Mahaska, Monroe, Van Buren, Wapello and Wayne counties) ($195,880)
4 buses

Region 16 (Des Moines, Henry, and Louisa counties) ($73,040)
1 bus

 
Analysis of House Republican Budget Cuts on Employment and Training in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 18 February 2011 11:49

February 17, 2011

This week, the U.S. House is considering a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011.  The current funding proposal expires on March 4, 2011.  Analysis released today shows that the budget proposal will have a detrimental impact on job training and assistance to workers who are trying to lift up their families in the fragile economy.

Harkin’s full statement on the budget proposals before Congress can be found here.

“Imagine the struggle of a worker facing a layoff who then learns the job training or assistance he needs to recover is not available.  The same can be said of at-risk youths who are looking to improve their opportunities.  Under the House budget proposal, the door is closed to both of them,” said Harkin.  “There is no question that the time has come for tough budget decisions, but the smart way to bring down the deficit is for Congress to pursue a balanced approach of major spending cuts and necessary revenue increases, while continuing to take steps to strengthen the Iowa economy.”

Below are some specific cuts Iowa will face in job training if the House budget is enacted.


Job Training Programs.
The House plan would eliminate Federal funding – currently totaling $3 billion – for Adult Training, Dislocated Worker Assistance and Youth Training programs.  These programs provide job training and reemployment services to about 8 million Americans every year, including workers who have lost their jobs as a result of plant closings or mass layoffs, and disadvantaged youth, particularly those who have dropped out of school.   

•   Estimated Impact on Iowa:
Under current funding levels:
Funding Available in 2010: $13,967,648
Participants: 35,985
One-Stop Centers: 50

Under the House Proposal:
Funding Available: $0
Participants: 0
One-Stop Centers: 0


Dislocated Worker National Emergency Grants (NEGs).
The House plan provides $29 million for NEGs – a cut of $200 million (87 percent) below the current level of funding.  NEGs are used to respond to significant dislocation events such as industry wide layoffs and disasters by offering targeted training, affordable health insurance and income supports to displaced workers.  For example, when the John Morrell plant closed in Sioux City, an NEG assisted the 1400 workers and their families impacted by the closure.

•    Estimated Impact on Iowa:
Under current funding levels:
Funding Available in 2010: $16,367,015*
Estimated Participants: 4,685

Under the House Proposal:
Estimated Funding Available: $1,318,360
Estimated Participants: 377

*This includes $6 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act


Job Corps.
The House plan provides $1.02 billion for Job Corps – a cut of $691 million (41 percent) below current levels.  These cuts would mean the closure of more than half the 125 existing Job Corps centers and the loss of about 27,000 training slots nationwide.  Iowa has one Job Corps center currently and is slated to have a second open in Ottumwa in 2011.  The cuts proposed in the House bill make the continuation of either center uncertain.


Youthbuild.
The House’s proposal would eliminate Youthbuild – terminating the education and job training opportunities the program offers to about 6,500 disadvantaged students nationally each year.  Youthbuild is currently funded at $103 million.

•    Estimated Impact on Iowa:
Under current funding levels:
Funding Available in 2009-2010: $1,388,669*

Under the House Proposal:
Funding Available: $0

*This includes funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act


For more information, please call Kate Cyrul or Bergen Kenny in Senator Harkin’s press office at (202) 224-3254.

 
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