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Grassley Q & A: Serving Iowans PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 28 March 2011 12:41

Q.  In Washington, how much time do you spend meeting with Iowans, compared to work on the Senate floor, in committee meetings and in other discussions and work?

A.  When I’m in Washington, D.C., for Senate business, I meet with many Iowans who are visiting the nation’s capital.  Because mornings are taken up by committee business, policy discussions and oftentimes Senate votes, I have appointments and conference calls with Iowans at least every Monday through Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and any other time the schedule will allow.  Some of the Iowans I meet with in Washington are business groups such as chambers of commerce and trade associations; state, county and local officials; policy and issue advocates; student groups; and families on vacation.  The families and students often tour the Capitol and want to see a Senate office to learn more about the workings of the legislative branch of government.  Trade association members and others are usually interested in conveying their views about pieces of legislation or issues currently before Congress that affect their operations, including their ability to create and maintain jobs for Iowans, for example.

Q.  Do you meet with Iowans when you’re in Iowa?

A.  If the Senate isn’t in session, I’m almost always in Iowa.  I have visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties at least once every year since I was first elected to the United States Senate in 1980.  My meetings with constituents include holding my own town meetings, speaking to service clubs and school groups, and touring and meeting with employees at local businesses and factories.  The 99-county tradition ensures that I get to every part of the state every year.  A lot of people know they can catch me then, or if they can’t see me in person, they can at least read in the local paper that I spoke with their friends and neighbors who brought up issues of concern in the local community.  For information on upcoming meetings, please visit the events page of my website at  Iowans can also find out where I’ve already been this year by clicking on the interactive map located at

Q.  Why is it important for you to meet with Iowans?

A.  The seat I occupy in the United States Senate belongs to the people of Iowa, and I never forget that I work for them.  The honor of representing Iowans in Congress comes with the responsibility to be in touch with as many Iowans as I can, any way I can.  The essence of representative government is communication between those of us elected and our constituents.  There are a lot of ways to communicate.  In addition to face-to-face meetings, I communicate with Iowans using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, a webcast, email, the telephone and postal mail.  Each of those options helps foster a stronger dialogue between me and the Iowans I represent.  Not everyone can get to a town meeting or visit Washington to tell me what’s on their mind, so the more means of communication, the better.  Iowans can schedule a meeting with me in Washington or Iowa by visiting the scheduling page of my website,  It helps when requests are made with as much advance notice as possible.  My office also provides tour information and arrangements for popular tourist destinations, such as the Capitol and the White House.  Tour arrangements can be made by visiting  Questions about meetings or tours also can be directed to my Washington office at (202) 224-3744.

Harkin Announces More than $1,000,000 to Help Iowans Become More Economically Self-Sufficient PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 28 March 2011 07:53

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that a total of $1,034,954 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be coming to thirteen communities across Iowa.  These funds will provide assistance to public and private groups to enable participating families to increase earned income and financial literacy and to reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance that these individuals are now receiving. Harkin is a Senior Member of the Appropriations Committee that allocates funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“I am pleased to see that so many Iowans will have access to assistance designed to help them become self-sufficient and no longer in need of government help,” said Harkin. “It is very important for Iowans to know how to both spend wisely and be able to increase their incomes. This funding is designed to help individuals do just that.”

The funds are provided by the HUD Housing Choice Voucher-Family Self Sufficiency Program. The FSS program and the FSS NOFA support the department’s strategic goal of utilizing housing as a platform for improving quality of life by helping HUD-assisted renters increase economic security and self-sufficiency.    

Details of those receiving the grants are below.

  • Central Iowa Region Housing Authority, $57,529
  • City of Cedar Rapids, $138,000
  • City of Des Moines Municipal Agency, $132,973
  • City of Dubuque Housing and CD Department, $63,478
  • City of Sioux City Housing Authority, $138,000
  • Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority, $133,940
  • Iowa City Housing Authority, $54,394
  • Mid Iowa Regional Housing Authority $47,055
  • Municipal Housing Agency of Council Bluffs, $85,570
  • City of Muscatine, $55,309
  • Region XII Regional Housing Authority, $45,000
  • Southern Iowa Regional Housing Authority, $43,850

Concern over the flooding on the Mississippi river: Holding back the water PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lillian Voss   
Thursday, 24 March 2011 08:26

I am Lillian Voss and I am 94 years old. My late husband, Burton Voss (also known as Michael Voss), and I have lived at 4336 S. Concord Street for nearly 60 years. My husband died in 1994. Our house was built above the 100-year flood plain. We experienced all the major flooding along the Mississippi river these past years. My husband fought very hard against the tactics of the Corps of Engineers regarding the water levels of the Mississippi river. With this new threat of major flooding and after reading the article in the QC Times “Ask the Times” titled “River’s high level is a natural one” dated 2/17/2011 (enclosed), I feel I must come forward and again try to expose the tactics of the Corps of Engineers.

Do you realize the Corps of Engineers hold back the water on the Mississippi to artificially raise the river level to 9’ so that the barge traffic can operate efficiently? In holding back this water and not allowing it to escape, the river level is not far from the flood stage when the spring thawing begins in the upper Mississippi valley. This high level of water on the Mississippi makes the flooding in the spring considerably worse. Each spring when a flood is predicted along the Mississippi, I have a friend call the Corps of Engineers to ask them to fully open the dams to allow the water to flow freely and naturally. Each time I would ask they would claim it would not make any difference if they did open the dams. Anyone could see that if you open the dams and allow the water to escape down the river, the water level would drastically drop. This would allow a cushion for drainage for the water coming down the river as the snow melts and the rains fall. You will find my husband’s research information enclosed .

In 1962 over 1000 petitions were submitted to Congressman Fred Schwingal requesting the Corps of Engineers to open the dams. At that time we were facing a major flood as the snow started to melt in the upper Mississippi. Congressman Schwingal had enough influence to order the dams opened. In that year we avoided a major flood. This is certain evidence that opening the dams fully does have an effect or influence on the flooding on the Mississippi. As a result of opening the dams that year, the current of the river increased dramatically as the water level fell. Many barge accidents occurred and the dams were never opened fully again in the following years.

By opening the dams fully this would allow the water level to drop drastically so the river could receive the tremendous amount of snow melting off and the spring rains. Flooding would not be nearly as severe.

A meeting was held with the Corps of Engineers on 3/18/2011. These were the major concerns of Corps of Engineers about opening the dams fully. I expressed my opinion after each concern:

  1. The barges could not operate if the dams were opened fully.

My Comment: There is no excuse to leave the dams closed just to allow the barge traffic to come through when a serious flood is most likely to occur. We The People along the Mississippi have to suffer through these damaging floods. Is the barge traffic more important than preventing a catastrophic flood or at least making it less severe? I believe the barges can operate at a lower water level.

  1. The law states the Corps of Engineers have to maintain a 9’ river channel for the barges.

My Comment: What kind of a person would make up a law that would take superiority over the victims of a catastrophic flood? This is totally irresponsible. Did the barge companies make this law? A law like this would most certainly have an exception with regard to a major flood looming.

  1. By keeping the water level high we are protecting the fish and wildlife. If we lower the water level, we won’t be able to protect the fish and wildlife.

My Comment: How do the fish and wildlife get along when the river is low at other times of the year? Many times in the past 10 years the water gauges measure one or two feet, sometimes not even a reading. How do the fish and wildlife manage then? We are talking maybe one week of low water level, if that long.

  1. These water dams were not constructed for flood control. They were constructed for commerce.

My Comment: At the time of getting support (public opinion and financial), to build the locks and dams, flood control was a major reason as well as commerce. We are not now talking about flood control use. At this time the dams are causing floods, not preventing them. By holding back water to raise the water level on the river, this is contributing to the flooding. Let the water go naturally by fully opening the dams. What harm could it do? We would certainly have a less severe flood.

  1. Fully opening the dams might cause flooding down the Mississippi.

My Comment: If opening the dams might cause further flooding down-river, then why are you saying the dams were not built for flood control. You are damming up the water. Open the last dam first and let the water run and start opening the next dams in sequence as you go north. If you open the dams at the lower locks and dams (the last dam first) and carefully move up the river opening each dam while doing it, carefully timed, not all at once, you should prevent flooding down-river. With careful coordination and planning there would not be any flooding when the dams are fully opened.

  1. Our college experiments show that opening the dams and lowering the water levels would not make any difference on the severity of the floods.

My Comment: It sounds logical to me that if the river is low at the beginning more water can run down the river before the water goes over its banks. In 1962 it did make a difference. They opened the dams, the water went down the river and we did not have a severe flood. A great volume of water would run down the river before it would ever go out of its banks because it would not be restricted by the dams. What harm would it do just to open the dams and let the water run naturally. After all, this was the way it was before the dams were built. We were getting the 100-year floods then. Now we are getting the 100-year floods every three or four years. We are only talking about the dams being opened for one to two weeks, at most, before the full force of the water comes down.

  1. The lower water level will prevent municipalities from getting clean water out of the Mississippi.

My Comment: Iowa American Water Company tells me they can get adequate clean water out of the Mississippi at one and two foot water levels. After all, what did they do when the water level was at the one or two foot readings in the past? Many times in the past years the water level has been below the two foot water stage.

  1. If you can get Congress to tell us to open the dams, we will gladly open the dams.

My Comment: As we were getting ready to close the meeting, this statement was one of the last statements made by the engineers. This statement tells me the Corps of Engineers are not entirely to blame for these dams being closed to hold back the water.

It appears that the barge companies have more power over the Corps if Engineers and our Federal politicians than We The People along the Mississippi river. I must ask- Why is that???

I am calling on our Senators and Representatives to order the Corps of Engineers to fully open all the dams up and down the Mississippi river to allow the water to flow freely for this short period of time. Allow the river level to drastically fall so the river can receive the tremendous amount of water that is now starting to melt off. River traffic must be restricted until the major snow melt is over. Without a doubt, this action would reduce the severity of the flood.

Open the gates and let the river flow naturally as it once did for this short period of time. Try it once, if it does not work, then there would be no need to try it again. What harm is there in trying it? In 1962 it worked.


Lillian Voss

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.



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

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